My oldest daughter recently got married and while I am so very happy for her and proud of her, we don't get to see her as much as we use to. Sure, she fires me off a few texts pretty much every day and I am grateful for that, but I like spending time with her and seeing her beautiful self sitting at my dining table brings me immense joy. Needless to say, when she asked me last week if I could make my Hawaiian Meatballs sometime soon, I immediately set to figuring out an evening that worked for them and us. Last night was that evening.
I like to think of meatballs as 'Happy Food' because they're affordable and familiar and with our country currently in a recession, (and the distinct possibility that Donald Trump may become the next President of the United States), hard times require Happy Food. Meatballs are so popular that March 9th has been declared National Meatball Day! I may have been a little early for National Meatbball Day, but with this recipe, you'll be all ready to roll!
For the meatballs, you'll need:
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs such as panko
Combine ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add in one lightly beaten egg and mix to thoroughly combine. I personally prefer the hands on approach and get my hands right in there but you can use a wooden spoon or other utensil of your choice. Once the egg is incorporated into the beef mixture, add in dry bread crumbs.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat 1 Tbsp light olive oil. When oil is hot, cook meatballs, about 12-16 at a time so that you don't overcrowd the skillet. Cook meatalls until they are nicely browned on all sides and then transfer to baking sheet lined with paper towel.
While my meatballs were browning, I got to making my sauce.
For Hawaiian Meatball Sauce, you'll need:
1 x 398 ml (approx. 12 oz) can of pineapple tidbits
1/2 c. low sodium beef broth
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. low sodium soya sauce
1/3 c. honey
3 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2-3 green onions, finely chopped, to garnish
In a large bowl, combine juice from pineapple tidbits, (tidbits themselves will be added in at the very end of the sauce preparation), low sodium beef broth, water, soya sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar and grated ginger - whisk to combine. Pour wet ingredients into a large sauce pan and heat over medium high heat. In a small bowl, using a fork whisk together brown sugar and cornstarch - by combining the brown sugar and cornstarch before adding them to the warm sauce prevents clumps. When sauce in pan just starts to bubble, whisk in brown sugar/cornstarch mixture. Let sauce come to a low boil and then add in pineapple tidbits - stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium low and let sauce gently bubble and thicken. To check that the sauce is at a good thickness, stir with wooden spoon, turn spoon over and carefully swipe your finger down the back of the spoon. The 'swipe' should remain.
When all of the meatballs are browned, carefully add them to the sauce and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover saucepan and let meatballs and sauce genly simmer until ready to serve. Often, I prepare the meatalls and sauce long before I plan to serve. I let them simmer initially for about 30 minutes, then I vent the lid a little and turn off the heat. I turn the heat back on when I'm getting ready to make the rice just to heat the Hawaiian Meatballs through again.
To serve with these Hawaiian Meatballs I whip up a big ole pot of instant rice. To make the rice just a little more flavourful, I use Chiclen or Beef broth instead of water and I often add frozen green peas or diced green onion. I serve the Hawaiian Meatballs on top of the rice and garnish with finely chopped green onion.
These Hawaiian Meatballs are the perfect balance of savory, sweet and sour and the plain rice keeps things uncomplicated. After all, the balls are the star of the show and shouldn't have to compete with the rice.
Given that it was my daughter who requested I make these Hawaiian Meatballs, I served her and her husband first, then my mom and younger daughter and lastly my husband and I. I was barely two balls down when my daughter was ready for seconds!
I thought I had made enough meatballs for leftovers but not a single solitary meatball or pineapple tidbit could be salvaged. However, the fact that the five people I cooked for scraped their plates AND had seconds was all the thanks I needed.