Thursday, May 23, 2013

Big Easy Balls*

Thinking of having some souvenir t-shirts made up.  Let me know what size you want.

Jambalaya Meatballs

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

These meatballs are, indeed, very jambalaya-esque, with the right touch of spice, smoke, and seafood, all wrapped up into each bite.  Unexpected. Tasty. Oddly addictive. Personally, I like my version of non-balled Jambalaya better, particularly since making them is a bit of work, but my kids definitely preferred these.

For the Meatballs
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground turkey or ground chicken, preferably dark meat
  • 3 links Andouille sausage, finely diced
  • 1/2 lb. shrimp, cooked, shelled, deveined, and finely diced
  • 3 c. cooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and finely diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Creole/Cajun seasoning or blackening spice
For the sauce
  • generous 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • generous 1 tsp. Creole/Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 25/26 oz. jar tomato basil marinara sauce

The deceptive part of this recipe, as I found out, is all that dicing and mincing in that lengthy ingredient list. Before you can even get started for real, you'll spend a good 20-30 minutes preparing all the ingredients. Plan accordingly.

Preheat oven to 450. Drizzle the olive oil onto a large (12x17) rimmed baking sheet, and spread out to evenly coat the entire thing. Set aside.

Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and mix gently by hand until completely blended. Try not to compress the mixture as you go, otherwise the meatballs can become dense.

Roll the mixture into 1 inch meatballs, either by working spoonfuls between your palms, or scooping the mixture out with a small ice cream scoop. Pack the meat firmly, but again, refrain from squishing it madly.

Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet, taking care to line them up snugly in even rows to form a grid. They should definitely be touching each other.
Roast for 14-16 minutes, until the meatballs are firm, golden brown on the outside, and cooked through. You can use a meat thermometer (165 is your goal), or just pull one off and cut open to see.

While the meatballs are in the oven, prepare the sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onions, and cook over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes, until onions are translucent and beginning to turn golden. Sprinkle with the Creole seasoning and the oregano, and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add the jar of sauce, reduce the heat to medium-low, stir, and simmer until the meatballs are done.

Take the meatballs out of the oven. Let them cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with plenty of the sauce, as appetizers, in a crusty baguette as a sandwich, or over pasta***. 

* Definitely going to have some disappointed visitors from Google with this title.
** It turns out you can make Buffalo chicken wings...into MEATBALLS!  You can make bouillabaisse...into MEATBALLS!  You can make crab cakes...into rounder crab cakes, and call them MEATBALLS! And then, you can open a restaurant in New York, and people will line up like lemmings to PAY to EAT your MEATBALLS!  Crazy like foxes, these meatball guys.  Man, I am in the wrong business.  These are delicious, but still...
*** I've learned my lesson.  The last time I made meatballs without pasta, I got in big trouble.


  1. I would like a size small t-shirt, and the phrase Big Easy Balls in some sort of poofy font.