Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gluten Free Meatballs

So I came up with this recipe today, because my husband put the idea in my head. I have never made meatballs before, other than the take 'em out of the freezer and toss them in the microwave kind, so this was an interesting experience. And they came out so good, I'm gonna put the recipe here. A word, first, about TVP. Textured vegetable protein is made from defatted soybeans, and roasted so it's really tasty. If you ever ate Taco Bell food back in the '90s, you know what it tastes like, you just don't know it. I used TVP in my meatballs, partially as a binder because I used ground pork, not beef, and I didn't use any eggs, like you would for meatloaf and some recipes for meatballs call for. I also wanted to extend the meat a little, and make about 20 meatballs, enough for my family to eat and have a little leftover. TVP is really easy to use, it just takes 10-15 minutes to rehydrate and then you can cook it or mix it with meat, etc. So maybe I should include the recipe for the whole meal, pasta, meatballs, and sauce, huh? That's probably a good plan. Here goes:

GF Meatballs with Rice Noodles and Tomato Sauce

1 pound lean ground pork
1 14 oz package Thai Kitchen Stir Fry Rice Noodles (like fettucini, pretty much)
2 15 oz cans diced or stewed tomatoes
1 cup dry Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
7/8 cup boiling water
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus 3 Tbsp, divided
1/2 large onion, or 1 small
2 to 4 cloves garlic
2 tsp dry basil, divided
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dry oregano, divided
1 and 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
fresh ground black pepper, as you like it

First things first, fill a large pan with about a gallon of warm water. Add 1 package Thai Kitchen stir fry rice noodles to the water and let soak while you ready the rest of your ingredients. Next, measure herbs and spices into a 1 quart bowl.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp ground ginger
about 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Add 1 cup dry TVP to the bowl. Stir herbs and spices into dry TVP. Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil or olive oil to the TVP, it will help it all stick together in the long run. Heat water to boiling, add 7/8 cup boiling water to the TVP and stir, let stand for 10-15 minutes, while you get the rest of your ingredients ready.

Chop 1/2 large onion, as fine as you like it. Smash and chop 2 to 4 cloves garlic, as much or as little as you like. Have ready a large nonstick skillet, with high sides. (Helps keep the splattering down if the sides are 2 inches tall, at least.)

In a large bowl combine 1 pound lean ground pork with the TVP and spice mixture. Squish it all together, it works best if you use your hands, make sure the texture is as consistent as possible. It will still feel a little loose, but it will work into a ball. Form balls about the size of a large walnut, so 1 and 1/2 inch or so. You should preheat the pan with about 3 Tbsp vegetable oil in the pan while you make the meatballs. Remember, you should get about 20 meatballs, if not you might need to make them smaller, or they may not cook properly. Have ready some tongs to roll the meatballs over with. Add meatballs to the pan one at a time, in a pattern you can remember, clockwise works for me, and let them each cook for at least 2 minutes over medium high heat, until browned and crispy on the bottom. Roll them each over in the pattern you put them in the pan, so they all cook for about the same amount of time. Roll each one and cook on at least 3 sides, so you know they're cooked through. Remove them from the pan, so you can make your sauce. Drain the meatballs on a plate with a paper towel, or a rack, so they won't be greasy (though it's a remarkably nongreasy recipe, really).

Add the chopped onion to the still hot pan and cook over medium heat until starting to get clear, about 5 minutes stirring frequently. Add chopped garlic, another 1 tsp dry basil, 1/2 tsp dry oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper and stir for about a minute, just to get the garlic started cooking but not burned or it will be bitter. Add two 15 oz cans of your favorite diced or stewed tomatoes, whatever kind you like the best, and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes, just long enough for the flavors to meld. Drain noodles and add to the pan of sauce. Cook for an additional minute or two, until pasta feels al dente and not still hard, though it will be pretty soft by the time you put it in the sauce if you follow directions. If you want, at this point add the meatballs back into the pan and cook with the noodles and sauce, or place individual portions on top of each bowl of noodles. This meatball recipe also approved by my children, but they wouldn't eat the pasta, just the meatballs. But my kids like meat. Yummy and pretty easy. Serves 3 or 4

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