Carnivores around here can only go so long without chewing a chunk of animal. So the cook had to quit figgin’ around and get to cookin’ some Richardson Farms ground pork. I’ve got just enough time today for meatballs. Here’s our right now Texas version of Lion’s Head Meatballs.
COCONUT MEATBALLS makes 10 meatballs and plenty of sauce
- 1 pound ground pork, preferably local pastured pigs.
- 3/4 cup minced alliums—whatever you have on hand. Scallions and shallots are perfect, but I’m not finding locally grown right now. Leeks or any color onions are fine. Be seasonal, it’s reasonable!
- 2 cloves garlic, minced. I’m still buying local garlic from Hairston Creek Farm and Morning Glory Farm at Sunset Valley Farmers Market.
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch. Rumford brand makes a non-GMO version. I’ve found it at Central Market.
- 1 Tablespoon organic whole wheat pastry flour. I usually buy Arrowhead Mills from Whole Foods.
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil. Spectrum bottles an organic one.
- 1 Tablespoon minced or microplaned fresh gingerroot. I buy organic (domestic) whenever I can.
- 1 teaspoon ground roasted Szechuan peppercorns. You can find these in bulk at CM. I roast this spice along with a little Diamond kosher salt in a small skillet on the stove top. You want the mixture to smoke a little. Then you know it’s done. Let it cool, then grind up the blend in your spice grinder.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper. Freshly ground is best. I use white pepper occasionally and keep a pepper-grinder filled with white peppercorns on hand for such recipes.
- 1 medium or half a large Texas pear, peeled and finely shredded. This ingredient is a “right now” option to help sneak produce into the meat-eater.
- 3 cups coconut milk. You can use light or regular or a blend. I buy WF 365 organic.
- scant 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons curry powder. I make my own. For this recipe, I use a Chinese-style blend created by the late, great Barbara Tropp, as found in her China Moon cookbook. A vivacious, delicious read, this book is filled with Tropp’s irreplaceably tasty recipes and irrepressibly lively musings on food and the food life. I saw her walk through Central Market once, preparing to teach a cooking class there. How I wish I’d been her student.
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil. WF 365 organic is the best buy.
- fresh basil (very in-season here right now or cilantro, not available yet from local sources.
- 2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon or lime zest. Can substitute lots of fresh lemon verbena, slivered. Grown your own!
Combine pork and the next 10 (9 if not using the pear) ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix together to the point of cohesiveness using either a stand mixer (my preference) or your hands. You can form the meatballs, 10 of them, right away, or let the mixture rest in the refrigerator as long as overnight. I use a spring-loaded scooper to form the balls.
Whisk together the coconut milk, curry powder and soy sauce. I mix them in the same measuring cup I use to measure the milk. Saves washing another bowl.
In a wide (12″ is good) and deep (at least 3″) cooking pan—you can use a Dutch oven or very large skillet—heat the oil on medium heat. Place the meatballs in the pan and brown them on all sides. Take about 8 minutes or so to complete this process, adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent overbrowning. If you’ve included the pear in your mixture, the balls will be tenderly delicate, and won’t remain spherical. They may end up with 3 or 4 flattened sides. Lucky for us, meat pyramids taste just as good as meat balls.
Remove the browned balls, or whatever shape you’ve shaped, and place them on a paper towel (or cloth napkin) lined plate. Pour the coconut milk mixture into the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Put the meatballs back into the pan, put a lid on it, and lower the heat to LOW. Simmer the balls for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the zest or verbena.
Now all you need is some Lowell Farms organic jasmine rice—the greenest choice, or Asian rice noodles or long pasta. Seasonal veggie accompaniments right now could be summer squash, onions, and eggplant. There’s enough savory sauce here to douse a complete meal. Dig in.