Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Burgers and Meatballs...Oh My!

Vincent:  I do love the taste of a good burger. Mm-mm-mm. You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France? 

Brett: No. 

Jules: Tell 'em, Vincent. 

Vincent:  A Royale with cheese. 

Jules: A Royale with cheese! You know why they call it that? 

Brett: Because of the metric system? 

Pulp Fiction - 1994

I said it before a good burger is my favourite thing in the world to eat!

 I will show you here that you can make three things with the same mix.

You will need:


  • ground beef (regular or 80/20 mix)
  • ground pork (1/2 as much as the beef)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp bar-b-q- sauce


  • everything listed above plus
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • 1 inch piece of Parmesan (larger if you like)

Spaghetti sauce

  • 28 ox can of crushed or whole tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • fresh parsley
  • onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • couple shakes of Worcestershire

Start with the best quality meat. I use a beef and pork mixture. If you prefer to just use beef then make sure it has enough fat in it so your burgers are not dry. I love the way the U.S labels the percentage of fat on their packages. In Canada I would recommend using a regular ground beef  not a lean. I mix the ground beef with a ground pork because the pork adds another dimension of flavour and the ground pork has the needed fat.

Step 1: put both meats in a large bowl.

Step 2: in a food processor pulse 1 white onion, 1 slice whole wheat bread, 1 tbsp Italian seasoning, 1 tbsp Bar-b-q sauce.

Step 3: mix the bread and spices with the meat. Be gentle and not over mix the meat. Jamie Oliver would say "use your fairy fingers"

Step 4: once mixed form the exact amount of burgers to the amount of buns in your package or make the exact amount you are cooking up to eat. I place them in between wax paper for easy transport to the grill.

These were cooked on a hot grill. I add salt and pepper as well as any of my favourite bar-b-q seasoning mix.  As soon as I flip them I normally put on the cheese, which in this case was jalapeno Havarti. Cook a few minutes until the cheese is melted and you are done. I also think you can make an amazing burger in a cast iron pan on the stove. These were little sliders so remember they are thin and cook quickly. Don't overcook them or they will be dry.

Next.............I take the same mixture of meat that is leftover and turn them into meatballs.

Step 1: take meat and add some fresh basil and Parmesan cheese that I have pulsed in the food processor. Add salt and pepper. Mix gently with your hands to combine.

Step 2: I use a small ice cream scoop to create meatballs that are the same size. I form balls in my hands. Continue until all meat is used.

Step 3: at this stage I place on a sheet pan and freeze. Once they are frozen I place into Ziploc bags and leave them frozen until I want to make Spaghetti and meatballs or a meatball sub sandwich.

How do I do that?

Step 1: take out frozen meatballs and place on a baking pan with parchment paper. heat oven to 375 degrees and bake 10 minutes until they release most of their water and fat and they just start to get browned.

Step 2: in a saute pan I fry a shredded carrot, chopped basil, chopped parsley, finely diced celery (you could do all of this in a food processor) Italian seasoning, salt/pepper and chili flakes.

Step 3: add can of crushed tomatoes and blend. I also add a bit of balsamic vinegar and some sugar to offset the acidity of the tomatoes.

Step 4: remove partially cooked meatballs from baking sheet (see how much water and fat has come out) and add them to sauce. Cook on low for an hour. It can stay on the stove for longer. Once most of the water evaporates I like to add the starchy water from the cooking pasta noodles to make it smooth and silky.

I cook the spaghetti until they are al dente (still a bit hard to the tooth) and then I take the pasta and either put in into the pot with the sauce or I strain the noodles and then return back to the pot with some pasta water I have kept and then add some of the sauce to coat noodles, Once the noodles are coated with sauce I then place on plate and add more sauce,  meatballs and grated Parmesan to top.

If I have any meatballs leftover. You can make some meatballs sub sandwiches. You warm up meatballs, take a nice fresh crusty roll add, balls, sauce and some cheese- melt under broiler for a few minutes TADA!!

3 things from a package of beef and a package of pork

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