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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Poetry and Manly Meatballs

Last night, Mr FS and I went to a reading of Auden at the home of a former colleague. We were so excited! Our "going out" life is picking up.

The hostess's house was beautiful, full of old rugs and other neat things. Her father was a famous Proust scholar, originally from Germany, so she had many things that evoked that older European culture.

But the food! Amid all the cheeses was a plate of meatballs on bread. I said, "Are those MANLY MEATBALLS?" The hostess was shocked that I knew. We both had the same cookbook, which described the recipe. I'd always meant to make them. The meatballs are manly as opposed to froufrou appetizers. According to the lore surrounding them, manly meatballs are guaranteed to disappear. Indeed, they did.

So, if you're doing some entertaining, try these MANLY MEATBALLS. It's fun just to say the name. The recipe below is copied from this site. Both my hostess and I found the recipe in Best American Recipes 1999. You can get that book for a mere penny (plus shipping) on Amazon.

Alan Richman is the esteemed and always witty food writer for Gentleman's Quarterly magazine, but I take the blame for calling these his "manly" meatballs. He made them for a birthday party of our mutual friend Alexis Bespaloff, the well-known wine writer. As he was passing them on a platter, taking full responsibility for their simplicity and strong flavor, he explained that he made them because when he heard the menu planned by Alex's wife he felt there might be too much "sissy food" -- you know, pasta and salads.

They are not, of course, anything like any recipe you've ever seen for Swedish meatballs, but to my mind they make an even better stand-in. Baking them on bread slices -- which, by the way, do not burn or get too hard, even though it seems as if they would -- makes them perfect finger food.
1 pound ground chuck (not leaner beef)

3 scallions, finely minced (use most of the green)

4 tablespoons dark soy sauce (or regular soy sauce, if that's all you have)

1 firmly packed teaspoon brown sugar (a rounded teaspoon, if using regular soy sauce)

1 baguette or ficelle (a small diameter French bread), about 20 inches long, sliced about 1/2-inch thick (if the bread has a large diameter, cut the slices in half, just a bit bigger than the meatballs)

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients, except bread. With your hands, mix and knead thoroughly until the meat is a fine paste.

Make balls the size of smallish walnuts.

Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and place one meatball on each.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes in a preheated 450-degree oven until done to taste (Richman says "until just cooked through." I like them still rare.).

Serve hot.

Do you have any favorite foods for entertaining? Or poetry to read aloud?


Duchesse said...

Great! I love it when people serve a substantial appetizer, like these meatballs or brochettes of chicken or shrimp, because though people who know dinner is not served, some come straight from work without having eaten, and this is a substantial enough to tide them over.

Our default appetizer is good sausage (often salami) cut in thick coins, marinated olives, boconcini balls (quartered) drizzled with a little olive oil and herbs, and grape tomatoes. Everything goes into small bowls, passed on a tray or set out.

Makes both vegetarians and carnivores happy.

Duchesse said...

Oops, that should have read, "because EVEN though people know...

I also find Mark Bittman's "100 Simple Appetizers in 20 Minutes or Less" a real boon:

Funny about Money said...

Wow! Those do sound good! For us tea-room types, that and a salad would make a meal.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--Great spread! You're lucky to have access to all those things in your big city. We can get some; but some require a drive.

@Funny--It did. And no salad.