Saturday, March 10, 2018

Ready or Not! (Nom Nom Paleo): Weeknight Meatballs with Umami Gravy

What's the best kind of dinner you can have?  If you said a sous vide ribeye, you would be correct.  But meatballs in gravy on top of mashed potatoes is definitely a strong runner up.  And when you manage to get all of the breading out of the recipe while still having all of the flavor, things just get even better.  I was actually surprised by how delicious these meatballs are (I'm always suspicious of formed meat that has no breadcrumbs), and the gravy is definitely an umami bomb.

Weeknight Meatballs with Umami Gravy
Adapted from Ready or Not! (Nom Nom Paleo) by Michelle Tam

2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
½ cup finely diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
¼ teaspoon dried chervil
¼ teaspoon dried summer savory
½ cup grated Parmesan
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Umami Gravy

Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the middle.  Pour ¼ cup of water in a shallow bowl, and sprinkle the powdered gelatin on the liquid.  Let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the gelatin blooms (absorbs all the water).

Using your hands, gently mix together the bloomed gelatin with all of the other ingredients in a large bowl.  Be careful not to overwork the meat.  Form the meat mixture into 1½-inch balls.  You can use a #24 disher, which holds 3 tablespoons and makes perfectly sized meatballs.  Roll the balls between your hands to make sure they're pretty and round.

Arrange all the meatballs on a large parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.  Using tongs, drop the meatballs into the Umami Gravy and stir to coat.  Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or pureed cauliflower.

Makes 24 meatballs

Umami Gravy
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon fish sauce
½ pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, ground into powder (optional)
4 cups beef bone broth or chicken stock
3 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes until soft.  Add the tomato paste and fish sauce.  Stir to evenly distribute.  Toss in the sliced mushrooms, and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the mushroom juices have released and cooked off.  Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the mushroom powder and bone broth.  Drop in the thyme sprigs.

Turn the heat up to high and bring the gravy to a boil.  Decrease the heat to medium-low to maintain a strong simmer.  Cook for 30 minutes, or until the gravy has reduced by about half.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.  Discard the thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour the mixture into a blender and puree the gravy until smooth.

Makes 3 cups

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