Hot hot redux ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

18 May 2007

Hot hot redux


Today we actually went to the store and bought lots of food. We win groceries! I mean, we get groceries by buying them. It was great.

We went over to the butcher and stood there looking at the meat. "Do you want meat?" John asked. "I don't know," I said. "I mean, if I were going to buy meat, I'd get some of that freerange ground chicken, and I'd get some lemongrass and garlic and hot pepper and make spicy meatballs to put in some of the chicken broth."

Guess what happened next.

My whole concept of meatballs in good broth comes from Nigel Slater, King of Meat. I mean, well. Appetite has a clearly awesome recipe for just such meatballs, made with pork and bacon and aforementioned lemongrass and hot peppers and garlic. I made them with pork a long time ago, at the first occasion of their awesomeness. They were indeed awesome, but somehow pork is not really my thing. Fortunately, the basic concept really works with any meat, or so I assume after having had successes with both turkey and chicken. I don't even bother with the bacon. I don't even bother to glance at the cookbook. I just go.

Hot hot meatballs in broth

half a pound ground chicken or turkey
inch chunk of fresh ginger
five or so garlic cloves
two small hot red peppers (serranos in this case)
all the lime zest you can rip off the lime i.e. barely any
a little sea salt
some flour
decent broth
maybe some sriracha if you want to make the broth hot too

If your broth is frozen, defrost it. Put it in a pan and heat it to a simmer while you're doing everything else. Season it if you want. I am inclined to do almost nothing to the broth; it's already good. I just added a tiny bit of Sriracha to mine.

Meatballs. Start with the hot hot spice ingredients. Smash, peel, and dice garlic cloves. Trim and dice peppers. The ginger may take a little more conniving and general tricky behavior.

If you try to peel fresh ginger with a knife, half the body is lost; if you use a peeler, half the body is lost, it's stupid and blunt and takes forever, and you get really annoyed trying to get peel bits out of the blade. So sometime in the last few weeks I read something online about how to actually peel ginger. You use a spoon. I tried it for the first time tonight, with completely perfect and easy results. Do it. It will be great. Then finely dice the ginger.

Put all these in a bowl with a little salt and as much lime zest as you can get off the lime. I forgot lemongrass, so this was my escape.

Also, get out a small bowl and put a couple handfuls of flour in it. This is also a good time to start heating a big frying pan to medium-hot.

Add the chicken/whatever to the chopped spice and stir to mix well, using your hands. When all the ginger and garlic and etc is well distributed, start making little meatballs. Make them as small as you can stand, so they'll cook faster. Mine were probably an inch and a half across, and I got twelve of them out of half a pound of meat. As you finish each meatball, roll it in the flour and get a little coating on it.

When all meatballs are complete, it's time to cook. Is your frying pan hot? Yes? Put in your meatballs, setting each directly on the pan, then flattening slightly with your hand or the back of a spatula. Everything should sizzle. Everything should also fit in a single layer. If it doesn't, do two batches. I would say that you might want a little oil for frying, but this is meat. It already has plenty of fat. Just let it cook of itself.

Fry the meatballs for maybe five minutes, or until you can see the opaque cooked flesh creeping halfway up the side of each one. Don't move them until then; you want them to develop a nice crust. Then flip them all over and let cook, again without moving, on the other side. When they're entirely opaque and crusty on the other side, you are done.

Tip the meatballs into the broth. Try not to splash it everywhere. Then, quickly, while the frying pan is still hot, deglaze with a ladleful of broth. Just pour in a scoop of broth and, while it sizzles furiously, scrape up all the pan bits with your spatula. Pour the result into your broth and stir to mix.

Get yourself a nice drinky bowl and have meatballs and broth.

Little bowls make this business very appealing, both visually and physically. You can hold a little bowl up and slurp over it, for instance. You can take a straight shot of the left broth after you eat the meat. You can also clearly serve little bowls of soup to everyone at a silly dinner party, so they can be happy with their little present before the main meal. I got a present! Yay!

John is quite interested in seeing these in a coconut milk-based curry. I think that would work admirably. I also think that tomorrow I'm going to have my six leftover meatballs and their broth over a big whack of brown rice.