Every once in a while a good old favorite comfort food gets “rediscovered” and becomes the latest retro-hip trend. Meatballs are currently enjoying such a comeback. And we couldn’t be more thrilled. Perhaps they aren’t as pretty as trendy cupcakes, but they are delicious comfort food in a bite-sized package.
Meatballs ‘Round the World
Although most Americans would associate meatballs with Italian food, meatballs are actually found in numerous cultures and cuisines throughout the world and history, dating back even as far as ancient Rome.
Meatballs can be found as main dishes or as accompaniments—even as ingredients in soups and stews. Throughout the world varying ingredients are used, and even varying types and blends of meats. They can be boiled, baked, fried, or steamed. They can be covered in glaze, sauce, or gravy. The common denominator is ground meat formed into a ball.
In North African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian cooking, meatballs are known as kofta and the meat is mixed with grains and sometimes vegetables, nuts, cheese, or eggs. Kofta can also be made with different kinds of meat, such as lamb or even fish.
Many of us are probably familiar with Swedish meatballs, served in a creamy (and slightly fruity) gravy over buttered noodles.
In Italy, meatballs were a singular dish, served separately from spaghetti. Italian-American cuisine created the marriage of spaghetti and meatballs, as Americans demanded meat be served with their pasta.
Many home-cooks have a go-to meatball recipe, often handed down through generations of a family or perfected through years of trial and error. Even so, going off the beaten path can uncover some exciting and tantalizing meatball options. Here are a few idea-starters.
Meat Blend: While ground beef is the standard base for most American meatballs, ground veal can also be used or blended with beef. Ground pork is often incorporated with ground beef and veal in meatloaf–why not try it in meatballs as well? For variation, try ground lamb. For a lighter meatball, try ground chicken or turkey.
Dipping Sauces: Serve your meatballs mini-size with dipping sauces as a great appetizer or party finger food. We suggest trying Lobel's BBQ Sauce, Löwensenf Bavarian Style Mustard, Löwensenf Classic Hot Mustard, or Horseradish and Cream Sauce.
Seasoning Blends: Switch things up with a new seasoning blend, such as Lobel's All-Purpose Savory Seasoning.
BBQ Style: Incorporate your favorite chili seasoning in your ingredients (such as Nantucket Red Chili Seasoning) and brush with your favorite barbecue sauce.
Hot and Spicy: Incorporate a spicy ingredient, a spicy glaze, or a spicy dipping sauce to turn the heat up a notch. Try incorporating Nirmala's Kitchen Wild Fire Chili Blend in with your favorite sauce.
Go Exotic: Try incorporating a more exotic spice blend, such as Terre Exotique Fleur de Sel with Roasted Spices. Or serve with an exotic glaze or dipping sauce, such as Löwensenf Bavarian Style Mustard. For Asian flair, try Sweet Asian Stir Fry & Dipping Sauce or Thai Chili Roasted Garlic Sauce.
Great for Game Day
Football playoffs are underway and the big game day will be here before you know it! Treat hungry fans to bite-sized meatballs on toothpicks for convenient in-game eating. Or bake some meatballs from your favorite recipe—the bigger the better—and drench them in marinara and mozzarella on a hoagie roll.
Any way you serve them, football fans are sure to love meatballs!
Do you have a favorite meatball recipe? Where did it originate? What’s your favorite type of meat or blend of meat to use in a meatball? Have you ever tried any exotic meatball types? How do you serve your meatballs? On top of spaghetti all covered with cheese?