Food Memories- Meatball Casserole


My grandmother was many things- tiny, fierce, independent, stubborn, mouthy, and fiery.  In many ways, I am her clone. One thing she was not, however, was a good cook.  Growing up, most of the food we ate started out from a can or the freezer, the veggies were always overly cooked, and the meat always overdone, no matter the cut.  There was one thing, though, that she made that was amazing- and even though it had a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup as a base (it was the 70s, cream of mushroom soup was as much of a food trend then as Kale is now)-  Meatball Casserole!  I am that the actual recipe exists somewhere, maybe on the inside of a soup can somewhere, but my Gran always seemed to make it from memory.  And, after she died, my mum and I realized that she had never written it down anywhere, so, we were forced to recreate it, which we did- it was easy, can of soup, some milk, meatballs and go!  Five plus years ago, I stopped eating beef, so I started making the meatballs with turkey and the taste itself did not change much.  And then last year, I decided to get rid of most canned food and had to find a substitution, the solution which I found in the base recipe that I use for green bean casserole.

What I love about this recipe is that it tastes like home and is perfect for a winter night.  It isn’t a healthy recipe at all, though the original could be made healthier by combining an other food trend (and not a good one at that) of low fat soup. Honestly, though, it is worth taking the time to make the soup from scratch, it elevates it to a new level.  This was one of the dishes that got my daughter into eating mushrooms, in fact, she regularly requests it when I am making my weekly menu.  This isn’t one of “Don’t worry, you won’t notice the mushrooms in the dish” recipes- they are front and center and a huge part of the flavour profile.  It also reheats well if there are any leftovers, which there normally are not.

Meatball Casserole

Serves 5 to 6

Soup base is adapted from here- http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/the-ultimate-green-bean-casserole/

Ingredients

Oven at 350

Equipment-

Extra large saucepan or dutch oven with a tight lid- will need to be able to be oven safe

Large pot to boil the noddles

For the soup-

2 to 3 tablespoons butter

1 pound mushrooms, sliced small (I like to combine portobello, crimini, and/or white mushrooms)

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons flour

1 ½ cups low sodium cups chicken broth (since you are mixing it with meat later, no need to use vegetable broth, though if it what you have on hand,you can)   

1 ½ cup heavy cream (Yeah, not a low fat recipe!)

Salt and pepper to taste (I use truffle salt, because, well, I am fancy like that!)

For the Meatballs –

1 ¼ pound ground meat (I use ground turkey with 9% fat, you can certainly use 85/15 ground beef, but I would not go anywhere higher fat than that- and do no use the turkey with 1% fat- you need some tenderness and taste to the meatballs)

A few splashes of Worchester sauce (sorry, I do not measure)

Half a small onion finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Make the soup- melt the butter, add garlic, salt, pepper, mushrooms- cook until the moisture is released and mostly evaporated- at least six minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook for a minute, constantly stirring.  Add the broth and cream and cook for 10-15 minutes, until it is thickened.  

While that is cooking, make the meatballs – add the ingredients together and make 20-24 small meatballs, about one inch around.

Once the soup is done, gently place the meatballs in the soup, be careful not to break them up. Place the cooking vessel, cover, and put into the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove lid and cook for another 30 minutes.  Serve over noodles or rice (I prefer egg noodles).

-CyberWaif 

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