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Celebrating National Meatball Day... with fabulous recipes from two Capsicum chefs.



While not all food appreciation days are worth writing home about (National Turkey Neck Soup Day anyone?), National Meatball Day - celebrated on Tuesday, March 9 - is definitely a day worthy of note given the amazing number of different dishes that can be created using the humble meatball.


Food historians believe that meatballs were first created around the 2nd century BC in China, and from there moved across the Middle East and finally travelled the trade routes to make it throughout Europe. Today, just about every culture on the planet has their own version of meatballs and that's proven by the array of different ways they are prepared and eaten around the world, including a delicious Japanese-style, grilled chicken meatball known as tsukune; Vietnamese chicken meatballs which are rolled in sugar before baking, to give them a sticky glaze, and served in lettuce wraps; a Mexican meatball soup which features meatballs studded with zucchini, corn and tomatoes in a brothy soup; Moroccan spiced lamb-and-rice meatballs spiced with aromatic saffron; Norwegian meatballs made with lamb and veal and which feature a cocoa sauce in the recipe; curry meatballs from India, made with cashew butter; and the always popular spaghetti and meatballs from Italy.


Of course here in South Africa, the meatball is better known as a frikkadel, and is usually prepared with beef mince, onion, bread, eggs and spices and then deep fried or baked.

If you want to celebrate National Meatball Day and cook a fabulous meal for your friends and family, featuring the popular meatball, then why not try these recipes from two chefs from Capsicum Culinary Studio - South Africa's largest cooking school with six campuses across the country.


Asian Chicken Meatballs with an Asian Dipping Sauce

(courtesy Chef Chantel Williams, Rosebank campus)



Ingredients

500g chicken fillets

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed

3g of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

3 tbsp of fresh coriander, chopped

1-2 red or green chillis, deseeded


Method

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and combine until you get a fairly smooth consistency. Scoop up a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into balls, dust in flour and shallow fry for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown and crispy.


Asian dipping sauce


Ingredients

4 tbs soya sauce

1 tbs lime juice

1 tbs brown sugar or palm sugar

½ tbs sesame oil

Freshly chopped coriander


Whisk all the ingredients well and serve with the Asian chicken meatballs


Monster Meatballs

(courtesy Chef Caren Marimuthu, Durban campus)



(makes 12 slider meatballs or 36 regular sized meatballs)

"My go to meatball recipe is one I most often use for making meatball sliders, hence the name ‘monster meatballs’ because it’s a little bigger than your average sized meatball. Sliders are perfect for a family meal and can last up to 3 months in the freezer."


Ingredients

500g ground beef

250g ground pork (can be substituted for finely diced bacon)

1 medium onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

180ml breadcrumbs

5ml paprika

5ml dried oreganum

5ml fresh thyme, minced

5ml fresh rosemary, minced

10ml salt & black pepper

1 egg, beaten

15ml milk

15g parmesan cheese, grated

30g butter, cubed (cold)

20ml olive oil


Method

Prepare a baking tray by brushing it with oil or coating with baking spray.

Add ground beef and ground pork to a large bowl.

Add onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, spices and herbs to the ground meat and combine

Mix in beaten egg, milk and parmesan to bind together.

Divide mixture into 12 equal portions. Place a single cube of butter into each portion (as the meatball cooks, the butter melts and adds moisture to the meatball).

Shape the meatball around the butter cube forming a ball.

Evenly coat each meatball in olive oil, place on a prepared baking tray and refrigerate for an hour.


To make Monster Sliders



Preheat oven to 180°C

Fry meatballs in a little oil, over medium-high heat till half done.

Once firm, gently press down using the back of a fork or spatula.

Slice 12 mini buns in half horizontally. Place bottom halves cut side up, onto a prepared baking tray. Place a meatball on each roll. Top meatballs with a tomato-based pasta sauce, add a couple of fresh basil leaves and grated cheddar and mozzarella. Place bun tops over the meatballs and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese has melted and sauce is heated through.