04 December 2008

Men Like Meat

Years ago, before I'd even met Shaun, I briefly moved home with my mom. It was the classic out-of-grad-school-don't-have-a-job debacle, and I needed to live SOMEPLACE, and she had a spare room.

It was kinda fun, actually, mostly because it didn't last too long. One of the things I got to do was cook once in awhile: my mom is a really great cook, but I wanted to share some of my new recipes with her. One was Caribbean Black Beans, from one of the Moosewood cookbooks...it's got orange juice and fresh ginger, neither of which were used much as ingredients in my mother's kitchen. I adore these, and when I am feeling most bleak, these are the ultimate comfort food.

Now I know you're wondering, what did Myra think of these? And let me tell you. She didn't like them. Well, she thought they were fine, but she pointed out they didn't have any meat.

Mom: Where's the meat?
Me: There isn't any. It's from a vegetarian cookbook.
Mom: Hm. You know, you could add a pound of ground hamburger. That might be good.
Me: Why would I do that? This food is perfect.
Mom: Well, you know, men like meat.
Me: What?
Mom: Men like meat.
Me: SO? What on earth are you talking about?
Mom: Just that. Men like meat, I'm telling you.
Mom: Well, if you ever meet someone to cook for, he's going to want meat.
Me: What if I fall in love with a vegetarian?
Mom: (snorting a bit) I doubt it.
Though I'm still not sure what she meant by that last thing, in the end, she was right. Shaun's a carnivore, and he doesn't like black beans and rice. I refuse to add hamburger to it just on principle, so we don't eat it very often. Maybe that's why it's my comfort food: it's all mine.

In the meantime, this is one of Shaun's favorite meals. We served it for his family birthday party. Because, you know, men like meat.

Jen's Famous Meat Polygons
(so named because when I first started making them, they were extremely lumpy and far from ball-like)

Preheat oven to 375.
2lbs ground beef
1 cup breadcrumbs (or a bit more. I never measure this)
2 eggs
splash of milk
3/4 packet of onion soup mix
Take off your rings and wash your hands. Using my favorite yellow bowl, put all the ingredients in and then mix them up. Really get in there and squish things through your fingers...you want it mixed up right good.
Form into balls a bit bigger than the size of golf-balls. These just fill the palm of my hand just so. I try to roll them all and stack them nicely on a plate, because it makes me happy to stack things.
Using my big frying pan. lightly brown all the meatballs. You may need to do this in batches. Don't let them scald, but don't leave them too pink, either. This is where the balls usually turn into polygons for me.

When they're nice and brown on the outside, transfer to my pink Pyrex cake pan (already sprayed with non-stick stuff) and dump a can of cream of mushroom soup mixed with 3/4 of a can of milk over the top of the whole lot. And some fresh or canned (and drained) mushrooms, cover the Pyrex with foil, and bake at least 45 minutes. I usually pop some baking potatoes in the oven before I start this process, so everything gets done together. Serve alongside green beans with butter. And don't forget to put your rings back on.

Perfect for impressing your carnivorous friends. Or Shaun. Or Myra, frankly.


Sam Kaiser said...

P.S. I love this post all the more because the first time I read this I saw "Just add a pound of ground" and thought your momma was shortening sentences for fun.

Now I'm totally in the mood for beans and rice! Though I have to say my soft spot is for kidney beans and rice. Sick, but oh so damn good.

Homemade tacos are my comfort food -- I'd settle for a taco bell at this point. The British just don't appreciate good cheap mexican (not that Taco Bell counts, but it's close enough).

Mink*e said...

But not Joel, who actually cooks for his wife out of the Moosewood Cookbook.