Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Casserole with Jerk-Seasoned Meatballs... and a Mystery Veggie

This isn't a traditional jerk seasoning, but hey, I doubt that jerking meatballs is a long-standing tradition in any Caribbean family. It turned out better than I thought it would, given that its purpose was to rid my pantry of unclean less-than-local dried spices. And stretch out the ingredients I have on hand until my next paycheck comes.

Where it says "mystery veggie," my dumb ass used a green bell pepper. As too often happens, it overwhelmed the dish. If you end up doing this yourself, let me know what your mystery veggie was and how it turned out (if that's too much trouble, the slacker version is to leave a comment suggesting a hypothetical mystery veggie).

Casserole with Jerk-Seasoned Meatballs



3/4 lb. ground chicken, turkey, or pork
1" piece fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt or 1/2 tsp. table salt
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
Pinch ground cloves
Hot sauce to taste


4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 head garlic, peeled and sliced thin
3 large or 4 small carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 1/2 c. mystery veggie
1/4 tsp. ground oregano
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken stock
1/3 c. dry rice
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp. orange juice
Hot sauce to taste
1 Tbsp. flour
2 stale bread slices' worth of crumbs


About eight hours in advance (so before you leave for work in the morning, if you're a nine-to-five type), mash all the meatball ingredients together. Cover and put back in the fridge to let the flavors marry.

To make the casserole, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, mystery veggie, oregano, cinnamon, thyme, and bay leaf [gasp for breath]. Saute until all veggies are soft and onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the stock, rice, lime juice, and OJ. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium and let simmer 35 minutes. The liquid level will start to drop, but do not add more liquid to the pan. Stir from time to time to ensure that the rice cooks evenly.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium in a large saute pan. Roll bits of raw meat in your hands to make meatballs. They can be as large or small as you like, though large ones will take longer to cook through. Once they're all rolled, toss them in the pan together and cook evenly on all sides. If you finish before the veggies are done simmering, set aside and cover tightly to keep the heat in and the bacteria at bay.

Once the veggies have been simmering 35 minutes, preheat the oven to 375. Add the meatballs to the saucepan. Set the saute pan aside with reserved oil and meat drippings still in it. Simmer the veggies and meatballs together for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the flour to the saute pan and whisk to make a roux. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you go for added flavor. When your 10 minutes is up, scrape the roux in with the other ingredients and stir until the meat and veggies are covered in thick, gooey, delicious gravy. Add hot sauce to taste and stir. Pour this into an 8" casserole and cover with bread crumbs. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until bread crumbs are browned on top. Serves 3.

I will be in Virginia without interwebs from tomorrow through Monday, volunteering on a farm. Will have lots of pics when I return. In the meantime, don't forget to leave me your mystery veggie ideas!

Beat the eggs. Whip the cream. Show no mercy.

1 comment:

Tamar1973 said...

Instead of bell pepper, you could spice it up with jalapeno.