Sunday, February 16, 2014

From My Kitchen: Happy Pig Balls

Get your minds out of the gutter.... these are my signature finger foods. Pork meatballs meant to be eaten with your fingers or a toothpick it you are afraid of licking your fingers.

I call them "happy pig" because the pork we have gotten in the last couple of years has been from friends who farm hogs in Tennessee. Not only was the hog humanely raised, but the processor ground a high amount of fat into the ground pork and that higher fat content is keep to keeping these balls moist and adds a ton of flavor.

Tools to Use. 

Stand Mixer, with a Dough Hook
Saute pan
Oven, pre-heated to 375
Muffin tin, lined with foil (trust me, this saved a ton of clean up on the other end of the process)
Mixing bowls
Chef's Knife
Cutting Board
Small bowls for your mise

Your Shopping List. 

4 lbs. ground pork, high fat content (no less than 75/25) - if you can't find it, you can add raw bacon that has been put through a food processor)
1 medium apple, something dense and food for cooking - Ambrosia, Red Delicious or if you can find them, Arkansas Black
2 shallots
2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic, roasted
Potato flour (this keeps it gluten free, but AP flour will work, so will rice flour)
Black Pepper
Ground Fennel
Ground Sage
Lard (or EVOO or butter, whatever you prefer to use to saute)

The Mise. 

  • Thaw the pork and mix with the dough hook until the fat is well incorporated. Leave this out while you complete the rest of your mise so that the meat is warmer than fridge temp. 
  • Chop the (peeled) apple, shallots, celery into small pieces. Put them each in separate small bowls. 
  • Mash the roasted garlic and mix with a little fat (lard, olive oil) to make a paste. 
  • Measure out a tsp each of the sage and the fennel seed. Grind them together in a mortar and pestle of food processor. 
  • Measure out a tsp of whole black pepper and grind course 
  • Measure out 3/4 cup of whatever binder you use (potato flour, AP flour) 
  • Measure out 2 Tblsp. salt and set aside, you might need more, but you don't want to unintentionally contaminate the rest of your salt. 

The Pre-Assembly. 

  • Heat the fat in your saute pan. 
  • Add the shallot, celery, roasted garlic paste and a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper over medium heat until the shallots are transparent. 
  • Add the apples and cook for 3 minutes until the apples start to soften. 
  • Take it all out of the pan and put it in a bowl, set it aside so it can cool. 
  • Once the apple shallot mix has cooled to at least room temp (I might use the freezer for this sometimes) mix the apple shallot mix with the pork and add the rest of the salt, the pepper, the fennel and the sage and the binder -- use the dough hook and the mixer. 
  • Cover it in plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for at least half an hour. The longer you let it sit, the better it's going to taste. 

The Assembly. 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375
  • Using a tablespoon or a scale, roll about 1oz meatballs and put them in the foil lined muffin tins. 
  • Bake until they are golden brown on the top. There will be a ton of fat in the muffin tins (which is why you want the foil in there.
  • Take them out of the oven and transfer them to another plate. 
  • Heat a saute pan, and put the meat balls, brown side up in the pan to brown the part that was on the bottom on the muffin pan.
Eat these hot with some spicy mustard, or, make a gravy with the fat from the muffin tin and put them with some egg noodle and cover in gravy. 

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