Meatballs & the art of cooking in bulk

I have a friend (who’s from Somalia), and I realised that she would always leave a bit of food on her plate during meals. And being someone who tends to finish everything on her plate, I had to ask why. It turns out that in her culture, it’s considered polite to leave a small amount of food on a plate after a meal, especially if it’s a dinner hosted by family or friends. The reasoning behind this is that leaving a small amount means that the host has provided enough food for the evening – finishing everything on your plate means that the quantity of food has been insufficient. Very different from our Chinese culture where your aunty/grandma will get highly upset if you leave anything on your plate…. Then again, if you DO finish your food, more often than not you’ll find more food “magically” appearing on your plate.

I cook in bulk amounts on a regular basis. And when I say bulk, I mean bulk. There are only 2 of us at home, but I tend to cook for 4 on a regular basis. The main reason is that I have no ability to estimate quantities, and being a typical Chinese person, I tend to overcook rather than undercook. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as it means I have leftovers for the days when I’m too tired to cook dinner after a long day of work. Also, some food like stews taste much better after a day in the fridge!

Cooking in bulk is something I always do when it comes to meatballs. I tend to buy 1 kg of meat (sometimes I use a mixture of pork/turkey/beef), and make a shedload of meatballs so I have an emergency stash in the freezer. Believe me when I say it comes in handy after a long tiring day at work!

On this occasion, I served my meatballs in a tomato sauce, with some brown rice and rocket leaves. Speaking of which, I need to speak of this brown basmati, red camargue and wild rice mixture that I get from Waitrose. It’s a brilliant mix of grains – the nuttiness of the various types of rice work very well together, and give the perfect amount of “bite”. At ยฃ2 for a 500g bag, it doesn’t come cheap, but I allow myself the indulgence every now and again. (I tell myself it’s healthy and therefore it’s okay you see).

Meatballs in tomato sauce

For the meatballs:

  • 500g pork mince
  • 500g turkey mince
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • pepper & salt, to taste (I usually use about 1 teaspoon’s worth of each)

1. Whizz the garlic, thyme and rosemary in a food processor (or in my case, a mini food processor). Alternatively, chop finely with a knife.
2. Put the pork and turkey mince in a large mixing bowl, and add the garlic & herb mixture, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Use hands (or a spoon) to combine the ingredients. It should form a mushy, sticky mixture.
3. Form mixture into 2-3cm balls, depending on how large you like your meatballs.
4. Preheat the oven to 180ยฐC.
5. Whilst waiting for the oven, heat a pan over medium high heat, and brown the meatballs. This should not take more than 2 minutes per meatball.
6. Bake meatballs for 15-20 minutes in the oven, until cooked. (I play a guessing game when it comes to this, but 20 minutes is usually more than enough for my meatballs)

Note: You can freeze the meatballs after step 3, which is handy to have for a quick weekday dinner. (I tend to do this as 1kg of meat does make a significant amount of meatballs!) A good tip is to arrange the meatballs nicely on a tray before freezing them, as it means you get to have individually frozen meatballs (rather than a “clump” that becomes tricky to seperate once it’s frozen). I hope I’m making some sense here!

For the tomato sauce:

  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (I use chopped tomatoes with garlic and olive oil – any brand will do)
  • 1 tablespoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Mix all the ingredients in a pan over medium heat. Bring to the boil.
2. Once the sauce starts to boil, add the cooked meatballs to the tomato sauce, and stir to coat the meatballs.
3. Serve the meatball/tomato sauce mix with brown rice & some rocket. Or you could serve it with pasta. Or some freshly baked bread. Anything goes really!

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43 thoughts on “Meatballs & the art of cooking in bulk”

  1. Wow – I never thought of it that way! I love finding out things like that =)

    I also always cook for 4 even though it’s just us 2 – that way there’s enough for 2 nights. Plus I love that brown rice mix from Waitrose – but B can’t stand it, so I only make it when B ain’t home =)

    1. At least you still get to eat it, which is good. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad to know I’m not that only one who cooks to get leftovers!

  2. I totally agree, I always try and make extra so that the boy and I can either bring it for lunch or keep it for the next days dinner, its not only time-saving but good for the environment. I am disgusted when I hear people say they never eat leftovers… very shocking really… love your meatballs too!

    1. I know! I bring leftovers for lunch the next day too, it not only tastes better than the food we have in the hospital canteen, but it also helps me save some money ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I love meatballs and I seriously understand when you talk about the art of cooking in bulk I have bags of frozen wantons and chinese dumplings in my freezer. I think I might just have to add meatballs to the freezer collection now. They can come across very very convenient for me, almost all the time!

    1. Lol. I have some wontons in my freezer too! ๐Ÿ˜› I completely agree that it’s so convenient to have a stash of these in the freezer.

    1. Oh how interesting, I’ve never tried steaming meatballs before. I like baking coz them it means I don’t have to watch it constantly ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. You know it didn’t even occur to me that they were spherical. It must be me channeling my inner OCD ๐Ÿ˜›

  4. These are the most appetizing meatballs I have ever seen! I have to try this!

    I always overcook/overbake, too… I can’t help it! I am THE WORST at estimating ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Lol, we should start a club for anyone else who’s like us. ๐Ÿ˜›

      Do let me know what you think if you try them.

  5. i’ve heard of that practice “leaving some food behind on the plate” thingy as well. i first find it weird….hehehhee… because i’m like you, the plate sure squeeky clean with no food being left behind. teeheeee ๐Ÿ˜€

    and your meatballs look wonderful *thumbs up8

    1. Thank you!

      I know, I would never be able to do that as I have a compulsion to eat anything presenting itself to me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. It’s always nice to learn about different cultures! Thanks for sharing your experience. Really … My stint in the U.S. has taught me a lot about other cultures, too.

    Lemme tell ya … I ALWAYS cook and bake in bulk, too! I cook on weekends now, and the foods are always for me to last through the week, specifically, for breakfasts, lunch and snacking at work. Agreed! Bulk cooking and baking brings convenience to my working life now … The only thing is I need a huge freezer and fridge!! Hahaha …!

    Btw, your meatballs look scrumptious! They’re perfectly fit for bulk cooking!

    1. A huge freezer and fridge would be so awesome. Though having said that the fridge in my flat is pretty big – considering there are only 2 of us. But when you’re a foodie, it’s never enough! ๐Ÿ˜›

  7. YUM! i give it a quick flash fry when i make meatballs then have them baked or shoved under the grill for a bit til they are completely cooked. You make me want meatballs. Yours are so perfect and round. Gotta love that.

    I’m the complete opposite. I’m very good at cooking for one or two or a max of 5. More than that and I’m thoroughly confused! x

    1. I worry about my OCD now, I honestly didn’t even think about making the meatballs round, but apparently I am now being obsessive in my subconscious mind. Eep.

      And yay for meatball love! ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Gotta love the inherent Chinese-ness in us! It’s so useful though, because we’ll never ever starve. But we’ll probably always have overflowing freezers. Sometimes when you live with just another person, cooking in bulk is inevitable especially if the recipe calls for a pinch of this or that. What do you do with the rest?

    Love the uniform shaped meatballs too. Yummers.

    1. My thoughts exactly. You’ve raised an interesting point though, I bet if we do a survey of freezers the Chinese would come up tops for overfilled ones! ๐Ÿ˜›

  9. Goes without saying I LOVE MEATBALLS and yours look so cute all lined up! And I totally get what you mean about having more food piled on. When my friends used to come over to eat with my dad, I’d tell them to feign fullness when they were about 75% full cos my dad will definitely still give them more food haha ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I have heard of the idea of leaving something on your plate, to show respect to the host/cook. But like you, if I was to eat everything I was given – if not, it was there for the next meal. I kid you not!

    I love cooking in bulk. I do it all the time. 1-2kg lots of things at once. Divied up in mass bulk containers. Fortunately, enough though there is only2 of us, there are three freezers in the house – two downstairs and one upstairs! Specifically to house all the food we have. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have never made pork and turkey meatballs before. Will have to give those a go!

    1. I am very envious of your three freezers, that’s brilliant. You must be able to keep so much food in them. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Do give them a go one day, and let me know what you think when you do!

  11. Starting to feel as though there’s some meatball conspiracy happening that no one has told me about! This is seriously the fourth meatball post I’ve read this morning. Now I’m craving meatballs! ๐Ÿ˜›

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