March Meatball Madness!

Andy Mueller

andy mueller | in the kitchen with chef andy | march 2019

Hopefully Mother Nature decides to relax her icy grip this month, but if not, you needn't worry, as the big fun in March happens indoors in front of the big screen televisions with college basketball fans toasty (and toasting) all month long. The action that takes place on the courts across the country as tournaments begin keeps everyone on their toes and hoping that their 12 vs. 5 upset is all but in the books, and their "Cinderella," "Dark Horse," or "David and Goliath" game has what it takes to bring them bragging rights at the water cooler for the foreseeable future.

I'm not the only fanatic this time of year, but from a culinary perspective, I choose to leave the madness on the hardwood and keep the ball under control while I try to feed the hungry broods watching the action at home. Although this is a great time to gather with friends and get your game on, it is not the time of year to spend all your "time outs" slicing and dicing. Adequate planning and quality prep time aren't just for the court; they work in the kitchen too.

By the time the first tip-off hits the air, your prep work should be done and all you're doing is circling teams on your bracket sheet and cheering on your team. My go-to game day grub favorite this time of year is, fittingly enough, a round ball that everyone dives for when they see it: the mighty meatball. Try this recipe that's easy to make, takes little time to bake and waits patiently to get called into the game. Prediction: Badgers to the Sweet 16, Golden Eagles to the Elite 8 — you're on your own for the rest. Enjoy!

"Elite Meat"... Ball

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

In a small mixing bowl add:

3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (preferably Panko - aka., Japanese bread crumbs)

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 beaten eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried basil

1/2 cup beef broth

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Stir mixture to combine evenly, let rest in fridge for 30 minutes

In a large mixing bowl add:

3 pounds ground beef (80/20 blend)

1 pound ground pork

Add bread crumb/seasoning mixture to the bowl of ground meat. Using your very clean hands, gently work the mixture to evenly combine all ingredients. Place the bowl back in the fridge for another 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle. Form meatballs a bit larger than golf balls out of the meatball mixture using a medium-sized cookie/ice cream scoop. Place them an inch apart on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet with sides (mixture will release juices, don't use a cookie sheet). Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes or until juices from the meatballs run clear. Serve as appetizers with marinara sauce for dipping or place them in a hoagie roll with provolone cheese, sautéed peppers mushrooms, onions and red sauce for a hearty appetite! Keep them warm in a crock-pot on low, and let your guests help themselves.

Chef Andy Mueller is a well-seasoned Chef with over 30 years in the restaurant business. He's been on Food Network with Guy Fieri, was Reggie White's personal chef during their Super Bowl run in 1996 and has been Executive Chef at Zimani's in the late '80s, the original Executive Chef at Black & Tan Grille the first four years of operation and owned restaurants in Door County including Glidden Lodge restaurant north of Sturgeon Bay and Hillside Restaurant in Ellison Bay. He currently owns the massively popular supper club 'Galley 57' in Allouez at 2222 Riverside Dr.

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