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Apple and Sage Pork Meatballs

Meatballs presented on a bed of rice with broccoli and cantaloupe displayed above

These meatballs came to be in the desperation of not knowing what to cook for the kids. I took the framework from my Middle Eastern Beef Patty: Teaching Variation in the Kitchen recipe, made some adjustments and they turned out delicious. Simple recipe success’ like this build my confidence in the kitchen and help me to be more adventurous. I’ll give you some additional variations for you to try too!

The Basics

From Prep to Completion 1 hr

Temperature 400F for 30 min

Servings 15 – golf ball sized

What to look for 160F degrees internal temperature and that they are golden brown

Pair With

Variations

Use thisInstead of
Cheddar CheeseParmesan Cheese
1/4 cup of apple sauceAn egg
1 tbsp of fresh sage1 tsp of dried sage
MushroomsApple

A Little Bit About: Meatballs

Meatballs are versatile, from the type of meat (pork, lamb, chicken, etc) to the add-ins (shredded carrots, apples, spices). I always make sure that my meatballs have a binder, in this case I use an egg and rolled oats, but you could use bread crumbs and applesauce instead. If your meatballs fall apart, your binder is usually the culprit.

Looking for ways to have my children help me in the kitchen is what I am after, and meatballs are a great recipe to do with them. You can either have them help you prep the ingredients, add all the ingredients into the bowl, and/or let them help shape them.

Once you find your go-to-meatball recipe, challenge yourself to switch out different ingredients and come up with a completely new recipe. I chose apple, parmesan cheese and sage to be my focal point for these but try sweet potato, cheddar cheese and jalapeño next time. Make a double batch of your favorite meatball variation and then freeze them for later use.

All ingredients in a mixing bowl
Meatballs presented on a bed of rice with broccoli and cantaloupe displayed above

Get creative and explore new meatball flavors:

1. Sweet potato, cheddar cheese, jalapeno

2. Carrots, prunes, smoked paprika

3. Mushrooms, red bell pepper, cumin

Teaching Moment

Make Sure to Season your Meatballs Properly

When I worked with ground meats before I would just hope that I had seasoned it well since I can’t taste test raw meat. Then I heard a wonderful suggestion on a Food52 episode about cooking just a pinch of the meat to taste test it before cooking the whole batch. Brilliant! So do just that. Once your meatballs are ready to be formed, pinch off about a teaspoon and cook it in a frying pan. Taste and then adjust as needed.

A piece of raw meat on a frying pan

Making your Baby Food: Meatballs

Meatballs are a great way to introduce new foods to your baby. I loved making baby food for my children and meatballs where a way that I could introduce one ingredient at a time while also letting them work on their pincer grasp. You can make them ahead of time and freeze small batches, making sure to label your bag with the ingredient list. For example, start with the introduction of the meat, then add spinach, then black pepper, then apple, and so on.

When you are ready to serve them up, place as many as you need into a steam basket and steam until they have defrosted. I will also throw in some cut up veggies that my baby has already been exposed to in the basket and get those steaming too. Just take out your veggies when they are ready as they might not be ready at the same time as your meatballs.

Meatballs stored in a ziplock container

Making the Time

This week is the perfect time to sit down with your family, close friends, or even a stranger you just met, to make a delicious, healthy meal, and just learn about one another. I love my evening dinner with my family just learning about my children, and my wife. Making silly faces, cracking jokes, telling stories, and trying new foods that I get to appreciate.

Whats on my heart this week: The days seem long and the weeks go by fast. I have to remember to move at a pace that honors my family and make decisions that are long lasting. Take sometime this week to be present, with family or friends, and soak in the conversation and the views (sunsets anyone?).

Questions for the family

Mise en Place:

Read the recipe first | Lay out your ingredients | Prepare your tools | Start cooking

Apple and Sage Pork Meatballs

Ingredients laid out with labels
Meat fully combined
Forming meat into meatballs
Meatballs with parmesan cheese on top atop a baking sheet
Portioned plates labeled with individuals names

Apple and Sage Pork Meatballs

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

These Apple and Sage Pork Meatballs quickly come together by adding in all the ingredients at one time, forming them into balls and while they are baking, you can prep the rest of your meal.

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 lb of ground pork

1/2 cup of grated apple, squeeze out its juices

1/4 of a white or yellow onion, squeeze out its juices

2 garlic cloves, grated

1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, grated plus more for topping

1/2 cup of spinach, chopped

1 egg

1/2 cup of rolled oats

1 tsp of dried sage

3/4 tsp of black pepper, freshly ground

3/4 tsp of salt, more if needed, depending also on the saltiness of your parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F degrees, line a baking sheet with foil and spray with oil, set aside.
  2. In a medium size bowl add in all of your ingredients making sure to squeeze the onion and apple over the sink to remove the extra liquid it releases. Mix with your hands until all the ingredients have been incorporated, set aside.
  3. Heat up a frying pan over medium-high heat. You can skip this step if you’d like but I would encourage you to get into the practice of doing this. Pinch off about a teaspoon of your meat mixture and cook it. Let it cool for a moment and then taste it. Adjust your spices, if necessary.
  4. Divid your meat into about 15 meatballs that are golfball sized and place them on your baking sheet. Grate some additional parmesan cheese and sprinkle about 1/2 tsp on top of each meatball. Bake for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160. Serve warm.

What to Consider

Not all Parmisiano-Reggiano (parmesan) cheeses are the same. Your parmesan cheese should have a strong taste and be salty. I noticed once we changed to purchasing a more artisan parmesan cheese, I’ve started using less of it because its flavor is much stronger.

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