Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Creating Supper: Beef & Bulgur Meatballs

Meatballs are difficult to mess up. As I continue to share recipes with my friends (and their friends…and their friends…) you’ll see that there’s a pattern to the way I like to cook. As I mentioned before, I like recipe as a source of ideas. But when it comes to actually cooking, I do not like to worry about exactly how much of a spice I am supposed to add…or that I don’t have a particular ingredient a recipe calls for. If you’re an experienced cook you know that substitutions are easy, once you have a comfort level with flavors that compliment one another. If your learning curve is straight up when it comes to the kitchen, then practice will make perfect!

Tonight I plan to whip up Beef & Bulgur Meatballs for a new friend who just had a baby. A homemade meal is the perfect gift because it nourishes and comforts. In addition to being a client favorite when I had my personal chef business, this is one of those meals that when I make it for a friend she always asks for the recipe, so she can then share it with her friend. It is simple to prepare, yet complex in flavor. And so, now I share it with you.

1 cup organic beef broth1 cup bulgur wheat* (dry, comes in a box or bag usually near rice/grains in the supermarket)1 organic orange, zested and juiced
1 small can organic tomato paste
1 or 2 large cans (the 35 oz. variety) organic diced tomatoes (amt of diced tomatoes depends upon how much sauce you like, I always err on more sauce than less)
Brown sugar (about 4 Tablespoons, you’ll taste the sauce and add until desired level of sweetness)Cider vinegar (again, about 4 Tablespoons, you’ll taste the sauce and add until desired level of zing…keep in mind that as the sauce cooks the taste will mellow)
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 lbs organic (or all natural) ground beef
1 bunch of scallions, white parts and a little green, sliced thin
2 or 3 eggsallspice (eyeball about ½ teaspoon, more if you like the taste of allspice...this is going into the raw meatballs so you cannot taste as you go)ginger, ground (again part of the raw meatballs so start by eyeballing about ¼ teaspoon, and feel free to add a bit more if you particularly like the taste of ginger…)dash of salt & pepper
  1. Combine boiling broth + bulgur. Cover tightly and let stand for 30 minutes or more. (This is how you are re-hydrating the bulgur for the meatballs.)
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. For the sauce: zest and juice the orange into a saucepan and cook over med heat until the juice is reduced by half. Then combine tomato paste, tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, basil, salt & pepper in the saucepan with the OJ and zest. Bring to a boil and simmer about 15 minutes or until blended nicely. You may want to add more vinegar or brown sugar depending upon your taste….
  4. For the meatballs (*This is when it would be easiest if I was in your kitchen showing you an example of ideal consistency, but since most of you reading this blog are probably going to try the recipe on your own here's something to keep in mind: think about the bulgur wheat as breadcrumbs if you were making meatballs. Add as much of the re-hydrated bulgur wheat as you'd like. I always add it all, and find it makes the meatballs moist and fiber rich, but you could add half as much and end up with "meatier" meatballs too if that's your preference): combine bulgur, ground beef, eggs, scallions, parsley, allspice, ginger, dash or salt & pepper. Mix well and form into meatballs.
  5. Place meatballs in baking dish and cover with sauce. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes (or longer if you’ve made big ‘ol meatballs).
Another benefit of this dish is that it freezes beautifully. So, if you don’t have a friend to share this dinner with, pop the other half into your freezer and enjoy it within the next 2 months!


  1. yum! love this blog eila

  2. I'll make them for you too Meg, if you have another baby. Or, we could just have a late afternoon playdate tomorrow and have an early dinner with the kids.

  3. Hi there. I'm a friend of Allison Good who posted your blog once on facebook. I love it! I have two boys aged 2 and 4 and your recipes and ideas have proven so helpful. Thank you and please keep it up!

    Lake Tahoe, CA

  4. So glad you like it! Please say hello to Allison the next time you talk to her!!


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