Monday, September 20, 2010

Storecipe of the Week: Ruth's Sweet and Sour Meatballs

When a majority of people think about meatballs, they think of spaghetti and meatballs, with the traditional Italian flair.  I have noticed that many Jewish recipe are very similar to Italian recipe but with added sweetness.  For example, Jew's always joke that Kugel is really Jewish Lasagna.  Sweet and sour meatballs are very similar to Italian meatballs but with a sweet and sour tomato sauce.  Most Italian grandmothers would roll off their rockers if they tasted them as they would probably feel that the sauce has been ruined!  With that being said, they really are surprisingly delicious.  They are best served over rice or noodles for an entree or as an appetizer, they can be made into smaller balls and served with bread.

Belinda, from Highland Park, Illinois, put it best when she said that her "bittersweet memory is actually sweet and sour".  Here is Belinda's story and her mother, Ruth's recipe, which my family raved about.  Thanks, Belinda! 

Ruth's Sweet and Sour Meatballs
I guess my bittersweet memories are actually sweet and sour. Most of my mom's recipes I've had to approximate, because I don't remember exactly how she made them, and there are no written recipes as far as I know. In fact, I can't remember there ever having been a cookbook in our home. She had her recipes committed to memory and cooked in that intuitive, non-scientific way that many good cooks of an earlier era did. Her sweet and sour meatballs were my absolute favorite dish and one day, many, many years ago, I followed Mom around the kitchen taking notes while she prepared them. 
Mom's meatballs are delicious and smell great while cooking.  In fact, the aroma is intoxicating and takes me back to my childhood and my mom's kitchen. Moreover, this is a pretty healthful recipe, calling for all natural ingredients and no fillers. My daughter, Laura (Loritchka), makes them using ground turkey with much success. It works as either an appetizer or an entree, depending on how generous you are with the meatballs. Best to have fresh challah bread on hand for dunking in the sauce!

1 C. diced carrots 
1 C. diced onions 
2 T. olive oil 
2 (14 1/2 oz.) cans stewed tomatoes 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. pepper 
1/2 tsp. garlic powder 
1 lb. ground beef 
1 egg 
1/2 tsp dried onion flakes 
1 onion, grated 
1/2 C. diced celery
1/2 C. sugar 
1/4 C. lemon juice

Putting the Memory Together
Place oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Saute carrots and onions until soft, about 5 minutes.  

Add 2 cans of stewed tomatoes with juice. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder; you can add more or less according to taste. Let simmer.

To ground beef, add egg, dried onion flakes, grated onion and celery. Wet hands and form small meatballs (about 1 inch balls) and drop in simmering sauce. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. 

Then add sugar and lemon juice. Stir and taste the sauce.  You may add more sugar or lemon juice to adjust the sweet/sour flavor to your taste. Cook for another 15 - 20 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. I just read this! I'm happy that your family enjoyed my mother's recipe, and I love your photos!