Saturday, March 5, 2016

Meatball Subs with Caramelized Onions on Torpedo Rolls

I don't know about any of you, but sometimes I get such a craving for certain foods and will do just about anything to make the meal a reality.

Case in point -- I really, really, really was in the mood for a meatball sub. I generally am not a huge fan of meatballs, but something about the idea of some juicy meatballs, cheese, tomato sauce, served on a great roll was stuck in my mind.

And while making the meatballs and sauce didn't pose a problem, the rolls did. You see, there are very few places here in Corozal that carry the type of rolls needed for this type of sandwich. I wanted something that wasn't too soft, something that had some toothsome quality. So what did I do? Made my own.

I selected this recipe for topedo rolls (courtesy of One Perfect Bite), as they seemed to be just what I was looking for.

With the roll situation under control, I turned my attention to the meatballs. I decided to try this recipe (courtesy of Smitten Kitchen). 

As you will note in the recipe, any ground meat can be used. I opted for ground chicken, mostly to achieve a moist and juicy meatball. 

After combining the ground chicken with the various herbs, spices, egg, and bread crumbs, I formed the meatballs and set them aside.

I caramelized some onions and warmed up some homemade tomato sauce that I had in the fridge.

The meatballs were browned and simmered in the tomato sauce.

Ready for assembly:

The rolls have just the right ratio of chewiness and stood up well to the sauce and meatballs. The browned exterior of the meatballs offered a wonderful taste and texture, with the insides being oh-so-juicy. 

Craving taken care of and there's the bonus of now having a tried and true sandwich roll that I can whip out in the future. Sweet!

Deviled Chicken Thighs

The number of recipes that are available online to prepare chicken thighs just amazes me. And if I have my way, I will make as many of them as I can. Why? Because we love that part of the bird, and I firmly believe a good meal that contains chicken thighs puts everything back to rights...or close to it.

This was the latest way I made them for dinner (courtesy of the New York Times).

I first pre-heated the broiler, set to high. The thighs were seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides. When the broiler was ready, in went the chicken, skin side up. 

While they broiled away for about five minutes, I mixed together some Dijon mustard, minced scallions, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

When the chicken skin was golden brown from the broiler, I removed the pan and turned over the thighs. The mustard mixture was spread on the underside of the thighs, then the pan was popped back under the broiler for about five minutes.

The thighs were then removed from the broiler, turned skin-side up, and the remaining mustard mix was brushed on the tops. Back under the broiler for almost five minutes. I tested the internal temp of the thighs and it was a steady 160 degrees. Perfect.

Now for the taste -- in a word, divine. The skin was crispy and the tang of the Dijon mustard came shining through, but not so much to overwhelm the chicken. The meat was moist and juicy, making almost it's own sauce that was absorbed into the basmati rice I served the chicken on.

This is definitely a recipe I will be making again, while continuing my quest for other chicken thigh recipes.

Creamy Ricotta Spaghetti

While I love spending hours in the kitchen, there are some days that there's so much going on that a quick and easy dinner is the way to go.

I recently gave this recipe a try (courtesy of delish). The idea of using ricotta as a sauce intrigued me.

There are only three steps to this recipe. 

First cook the spaghetti and reserve one cup of the pasta water before draining.

Next, saute some garlic and stir in the ricotta, some of the pasta water, and a bit of lime zest. The recipe calls for lemon zest, but that fruit isn't readily available here. Limes, on the other hand, we have by the boatload.

Finally, add the pasta to the sauce and give it a mix so all the spaghetti is coated.

I garnished our plates with a bit of crushed red pepper and chopped basil. Overall, we thought the dish was okay, but not great. The ricotta worked well as the sauce, but it just felt like something was missing from a flavor standpoint.

A number of days later, I made this again. But this time, I added some chopped tomatoes and crispy bacon. That did the trick! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture. But imagine a forkful of pasta, drenched in the creamy ricotta sauce, the burst of tomato goodness, and the salty crunch of bacon bits all in one bite. it was delicious. 

I think this is a good, basic recipe that can be a vehicle for almost anything you might have hanging out in your fridge, looking for a home. Have leftover chicken bits? Broccoli? Throw 'em in there and in 20 minutes you can have dinner on the table.