WABAC Wednesday: Applesauce Meatballs

Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes, 1949/1965

I’m not sure what I was looking for in the index of Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes, (published 1949, this copy printed 1965) but I spotted Applesauce Meatballs, checked the recipe, realized that I had all of the required* ingredients, and so put it on my cooking schedule.

It was “scheduled” for two weeks before I actually had the time and energy to make it. Not that the recipe requires much of either, but I’ve been that tired after work lately. Besides, Thanksgiving provided so many leftovers that cooking more food wasn’t necessary.

So. Applesauce Meatballs.
Serves 8 

2 lbs ground beef
1 cup applesauce
1 cup soft bread crumbs
2 eggs
salt & pepper to taste
flour
2 Tbs fat
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, minced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cups tomato juice

  1. Mix beef, applesauce, and bread crumbs; add eggs; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Shape mixture into small balls, roll in flour, and brown in hot fat.
  3. Place balls in a casserole.
  4. To drippings in pan, add vegetables and tomato juice; season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil; pour over meat balls.
  5. Cover and bake in a moderate oven (350°F) about 40 minutes.

If desired, the gravy can be thickened with a little flour-water paste before serving.

If I were REALLY obsessive-compulsive, I’d have cleaned that bit of tomato gravy off of the rice ring. Not that I noticed it.

Here’s where the above asterisk comes in: I had ground beef in the freezer, but used ground turkey instead. I did not have one stalk of celery, one green pepper, and one carrot. Or tomato juice, for that matter. What I did have, though, was a few small cans of V8 vegetable juice. Which seemed to me like the equivalent of all that tomato juice plus the infusion of a few other veggies. And would save me not only a  trip to the grocery store, but a bit of slicing. Because V8 is seasoned, I also left out the salt and pepper. As far as the fat goes, well, all of my readers keep a small jar of leftover bacon grease in the fridge, right? Right?

End result: these meatballs are delicious. I don’t detect any apple flavor, but the meatballs are tender in a way that makes me think perhaps the applesauce is responsible. The tomato gravy, in my case, did not require thickening before serving. Oh bonus! I got to mix apples and tomatoes in a single recipe again!

I’d forgotten to plan a side dish, or rather had forgotten that my planned side dish was to be the spaghetti squash which is still sitting on the counter, so in a panic I cooked up a batch of brown rice and used it to make the Easy Rice Ring from the same cookbook. Not much of a recipe, it’s really just the handy hint that adding a “generous amount” of grated cheese helps hold the ring together. Assuming you have some sort of ring mold in which to bake said rice. Of course, the Shoes & Pie Test Kitchen has a ring mold.

Throw some microwave-heated frozen green peas in the center, arrange the meatballs in a Crazy Kitchen Lady just-so sort of way, and voilà, you have the photo shown here. Also: dinner. I halved the recipe because the Significant Other is out of town, and I don’t mind eating meatballs 4 nights in a row but 8 is asking a lot.

Fussy.

Gratuitous Photo: This object is a, um, meatballer. I’m sure there’s a technical term of which I’m unaware. Automatic Meatball Scooping Tongs or something. It does not save any time, nor is it any less messy than rolling the meatballs by hand. Mostly because the meatball tends to fall apart when exiting the tongs, so you have to roll it back together by hand anyway. Which, frankly, is more satisfying than “machining” a meatball.

What it is good for, however, is keeping your meatball size consistent. I noticed that when I wasn’t using the tool, my meatballs were getting slightly larger with each new portion. That’s not a huge deal except that you want your meatballs to cook evenly, and that isn’t going to happen if the first and the last are wildly different sizes. Besides, you can also use the tong things to make tiny snowballs. To throw at tiny adversaries, I suppose. Anyway, if you have your eyeballed-meatball-portion sense under control, or if you have a #20 or #24 disher, skip this fussy little item.

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