Friday, September 7, 2007

Freezer friendly foods

I am preparing for a change in my daily schedule now that I will be commuting out of the city for work. I have been stocking the freezer with easy to prepare/reheat meals like soups and pasta sauces using the fresh and seasonal foods at the farmer's markets.

This week I made meatballs. I figure that it will be easy to get a couple out of the bag in the freezer when I get home from work. I can reheat them with some pasta sauce and that will be dinner. The meatballs turned out fabulously. The flavoring was very nice and using a high quality ground beef (organic and free range) was the key to sucess.

To be honest, I have no idea where I got this recipe. I had cut out the recipe some time ago and pasted it in my scrapbook of recipes. I believe it was the New York Times, but I am not sure. Anyhow, they are very good!

Italian Meatballs
Time: 30 minutes

2 lbs of ground beef (or 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb ground veal), let it rest on the countertop for a half an hour before cooking so the meat is not freezing cold
1 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 ground cayenne pepper
2 minced cloves of garlic
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Mix all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a large bowl using your hands. Do not over mix. Take a selection of meat in your hands and roll a two inch ball or meat between your palms. Take care that the meat is firmly packed but not compressed. Repeat until all the meat is rolled into balls. I ended up with 24 meatballs.

In a large, heavy pot (I used my Le Crueset Dutch Oven), heat the olive oil over medium-hit heat. When it shimmers, add the meatballs in batches of eight or so. Do not crowd. Brown well on the bottoms before turning, or the meatballs will fall apart. Turning gently using tongs. Continue cooking until browned all over. Remove meatballs to a plate or paper towel as each batch is finished. No need to add oil between batch as the fat from the prior meatballs adds enough fat cook the subsesquent batches. Let the meatballs cool slightly and then freeze (or refridgerate depending on when you are going to use them) until needed.

I also froze some zucchini that I didn't get around to using. It was a super simple process. I found out how to freeze fruits and vegetables using the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. It is a great resource for freezing and canning food, among other things. I am not ready to take up canning, maybe next year, but freezing zucchini couldn't be easier.

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