Roasted Bacon Meatballs

So I’m saying meatball in the title, but there’s a slider in the picture. What gives? Don’t worry I’ll get to that.

The origins of this recipe, besides “it’s a good idea,” goes back a few months when one of my favourite food trucks, Little Village, made an appearance on the local news talking about his signature Kefteddy Burger. Basically, he took the Greek idea of keftedes, or Greek-style meatballs, formed them into burgers and topped them with an herbaceous cabbage slaw and tzatziki. There’s a link here of him going through his recipe (sorry if there’s country coding to limit visibility).

Shortly after seeing his Greek meatball infused with bacon, one of my favourite local butchers, Acme Meat Market, were making their Ultimate Breakfast Sausage. It’s basically a sausage with bacon and pork ground together with an added hint of maple syrup. The two ideas clicked in my head, the bacon and pork in the sausage plus the burger idea from Little Village made for a twist on a meatball. That could also be a burger.

I approached it with an Italian method of making meatballs. In Italy, they tend to soak bread in milk and work it into the mixture. Instead of milk, which admittedly adds a nice richness, but little extra flavour, I like to soak the bread in chicken stock. I also like to toast fresh bread instead of using stale bread for this step. Stale bread tastes stale and if I toast fresh bread, I get the deeper flavour from the toasting step before being a dry medium to soak up as much of the savoury stock as possible.

Today, I’m going to show that the same mixture can be formed into meatballs and burgers and roasted together to have options available to you as leftovers to make a few things throughout the upcoming week.

Roasted Bacon Meatballs

450g/1 lb lean ground beef

300g/12 oz Ultimate Breakfast Sausage meat, crumbled out of the casing (or use 225g/8 oz ground pork and 3 slices of bacon, finely chopped)

4 tsp dried oregano

1 cup toasted bread chunks (2-3 slices of whole wheat sandwich bread, torn into chunks and toasted in a 200C/425F oven for 12-14 minutes or until deeply golden)

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 egg

1/2 tsp salt

   Preheat oven to 200C/425F.

   In a small bowl, combine the toasted bread and chicken stock. Allow to sit and let the bread soak in the stock for 10 minutes.

   In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, sausage meat, dried oregano, egg and salt. Squeeze out the excess stock from the bread and add the bread to the mixture. Divide the mixture in half. Form half into meatballs and set them about 2 cm/1″ apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Form the other half into ball shapes about the size of a small orange. Press them flat into patties and set them on another baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Press your thumb into the centre of each burger to make a depression. This prevents the burgers from swelling too much and will maintain their flatter shape better. Place both baking sheets in the preheated oven and roast for 8-10 minutes. Take them out, turn them and return to the oven for a further 7-9 minutes to cook through completely.

   You can make only meatballs if you wish, or only burgers. If you make meatballs about the size of a golf ball, you’ll get about 30 meatballs. If you make these smaller burgers (more of a slider size), you’ll get about 15 slider burgers. Feel free to customize the size you like.

   When I made them, on the first night I just had them as basic sliders with tzatziki sauce, a Greek cucumber-yogurt sauce that’s traditional with keftedes and put them on slider buns. There’s a great place here that makes awesome tzatziki so I tend to buy it, but if you want a more creative twist on tzatziki, try either my recipe for Caramelized Cabbage Sour Cream Dressing (kinda what happens when a Hungarian boy makes tzatziki haha) or Roasted Garlic Tzatziki.

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