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Working in a busy, (mostly) professional kitchen is interesting to say the least; and if you spend enough time there you realize that many things are both a blessing and a curse.  My station kinda pins me between a work bench on one side and double ovens, a grill, a range and a flat-top on the other side.  While it’s more space than I ever thought I’d have in a restaurant kitchen, it is fiercely hot in the summer and I come home with salty, nasty, sweat lines in my, aherm, under clothes.  Come winter, when it’s snowing outside and the little waitresses are shivering in their mini-skirts (the dress code is mandatory, much to their displeasure) I am snuggly warm.

This week, however, it’s a perfect fall temperature here in the mountains.  The other day, which happened to be the one day I didn’t have time to eat breakfast before work, the chef decided to braise beef short ribs in the ovens on my station.  I was so hungry and it smelled so good that I was food-hallucinating all day.  Lucky for me, I got to have a teeny nibble of it before going home, it was so worth the wait.  Standing there, smelling the beefy goodness all day, I had to go right home and cook up some beef!

I made these soft and savory beef meatballs and stretched them out into three meals!  Spaghetti and meatballs, calzone and a casserole!  Not to shabby for one pound of ground beef.  You could also serve them as an appetizer too.

Option #1: Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

Option #1: Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

Option #2: A happy little calzone or three...

Option #2: A happy little calzone or three…

Option #3: A meatball casserole!  This one was Tex-Mex flavored.

Option #3: A meatball casserole! This one was Tex-Mex flavored.

Rosemary and Ricotta Meatballs

Makes 32 meatballs – cost $3.19 for the whole batch, $.10 per meatball

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef ($2)
  • 4 oz chicken livers ($.25) – totally optional!  I save mine from when I buy whole chickens and use them to bulk up meatballs and meatloaves.
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese ($.44)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs ($0, if you use up stale bread scraps!)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs dry rosemary or 2 Tbs fresh rosemary
  • 2 eggs ($.25)
  • 2-4 Tbs olive oil

This recipe is quite easy!  In a food processor, pulse up the ground beef and chicken livers together, just until it’s mixed together evenly, you don’t want to make a meat-paste.  Even if you’re not using the chicken livers, pulse up that ground beef a bit, it makes a smoother meatball and it tastes more authentic to me because in Italy they grind their beef finer than is usual in America.

Mix the ground meat with all other remaining ingredients except the olive oil.  Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Make the mix into walnut/golf ball sized meatballs and brown on all sides in small batches.  Remove to a separate plate when finished.

At this point the meatballs are only half-cooked.  This is fine if you’re going to further cook them in your dish, like simmering them in some marinara sauce or baking them into a calzone.  If you’re serving them as is, bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes to fully cook the little balls of meaty-goodness.

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