Category - Recipes

Fight Those Winter Blues With a Song in Your Heart (aka Meatballs)

In my head, just past the stress headache and around the corner from the impending doom of staring down another cold winter (that time of year when customers prefer to shop at giant indoor grocery stores), a little ditty is playing in my head:

I really can’t sauté,
(Baby it’s cold outside)

I’ve got to go braise,
(Baby it’s cold outside)

I think to myself, ‘hey, I should really spend some time fleshing this bad boy out; maybe get some of my more musically talented staff members to play the background music. Oh yeah, then I can make a music video for it and put it up on Facebook, where apparently video content gets 100% more views than just a plain old photo, and that would definitely lead to more customers braving the harsh weather conditions to shop in Kensington Market. Because yeah, that’s how Social Media works, right?’

And then I think to myself, ‘I want to curl up on my couch and just eat meatballs’.

So yeah, that won.

Meatballs
These meatballs take a couple of hours to make but once they are done they are great to have kicking around in your fridge. I’ll stuff them inside crusty bread, on a mountain of spaghetti, or just simply on their own.

Ingredients:

1 lb                        ground beef
1 lb                        ground pork
2 tbsp                    garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp                    parmigiano cheese or grano padano cheese, grated
2 tbsp                    fresh parsley, chopped
4 tbsp                    onion, finely chopped
1 tsp                      oregano, dried
1 tbsp                    salt
1 tsp                      black pepper, ground

Method:

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.  Roll into balls about 1-1.5 inches in diameter. Place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake in the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes. The balls should be golden brown all over.

You can eat the meatballs at this point, but I like to slowly cook them in a simple tomato sauce. You can then eat the balls with pasta, on a roll, or whatever you choose.

Simple Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

2                        small onion, finely chopped
6                        garlic cloves, minced
1L                      tomato puree (preferably one made from San Marzano tomatos)
1 tsp                  oregano, dried
2 tbsp               olive oil
to taste             salt and pepper

Method:

In a medium sized pot, heat the olive oil over a medium low heat. Add the onions and garlic, stir and cover the pot. Remove the lid and stir every few minutes before covering the pot again to sweat the vegetables. When the onions are translucent (slightly opaque and not too browned), add the tomato puree and the oregano. Season the sauce.

At this point add the baked meatballs and slowly simmer for 1.5 hours. Remove from the heat and enjoy. On your couch. 

Quickly Roasted and Dressed Chicken

With the evenings getting longer, and the afternoon sun disappearing before your grandmother’s stories have finished playing on American network television, I have felt downright jet-lagged. I don’t know what the best time to eat is, because even though I’ve lunched at 1pm, by 4:30pm my brain is telling me to start cooking dinner. And my stomach is saying no, not yet, it’s cocktail hour! Which then means I don’t think about dinner until it’s seven, and by then I’m running out of time to make something myself and I start thinking about the new shawarma place that opened around the corner from my house. Which I don’t want to do all the time! So I’ve come up with this little quick chicken recipe that is super delicious, ridiculously easy, and is done in about an hour.

Quickly Roasted and Dressed Chicken
Serves 3 to 4

Ingredients

1 (3.5 lbs)         chicken, cut into ten pieces by your butcher
1 tsp                 nutmeg
to taste            salt and pepper
2 tbsp               olive oil

Dressing

1                        lemon, zest and juice
1 tsp                 minced garlic
1 tbsp               dried oregano
1 tsp                 chili flakes
3 tbsp               olive oil
to taste            salt and pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 425°F. A good butcher should be able to cut the chicken up for you. Have him or her remove the backbone, then separate the wings, split each bone-in breast and split each leg to get ten evenly sized pieces. You can freeze the backbone and save it for chicken stock. Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and toss in the olive oil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread around the chicken pieces, laying them skin side down. Place in the hot oven and roast for 30 minutes.

Make the dressing in a large mixing bowl. Add all the ingredients together and stir. Set aside.

After 30 minutes, take the tray out of the oven. Turn the heat up to 475°F. Using a pair of tongs, flip all of the pieces of chicken so the skin side is up. When the oven reaches 475°F, place the tray back in and roast for another 15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F. You can tell by eye when the chicken is ready because the meat around the thigh and drumstick pieces will be pulling away from the bone.

Remove the chicken from the oven and put it directly into the dressing in the bowl. Mix the chicken so the dressing covers each piece, and then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  This step is important for the chicken to infuse the flavour of the dressing and stay moist. After fifteen minutes, remove the chicken and arrange on a platter, drizzling the rest of the dressing all over. Serve with steamed rice, mashed potato, or roasted veggies.