Sunday, April 8, 2012

On matzo and meatballs

There’s something about Passover, the Jewish holiday happening this week, that really speaks to me. For starters, culinarily speaking, it’s quite the challenge making food for a crowd based on a cracker; and I enjoy a challenge. I also like that for eight days of the year you really stand out as being Jewish, what with all the matzo sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs.

And if people thought I was annoying before, you should see me matter-of-factly explaining why we can only eat things made of ground-up matzo and not flour, even though matzo is made of flour, while waving around a piece of matzo shmeared with pareve margarine and 778 blackcurrent jam for effect. Hours of fun!

Geez, I guess I’m a little more into Passover than I thought, as I even found a bunch of blog posts related to the holiday here, here, and here, plus some ditties I did for Food & Wine magazine here, here, here, and here.

I hosted my first-ever seder this year, and along with the matzo ball soup, salads, salmon, brisket, roasted asparagus and potatoes (tip: when people offer to contribute to the seder, say yes), I made this fresh take on sweet and sour meatballs.

Whether you’re celebrating Passover or Easter or nothing at all, I think we can all agree that everybody loves a good meatball. It's the meat that binds.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

(serves 12)


4lbs lean ground beef

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

6 medium tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped

2 cooking onions, peeled and roughly chopped

2 medium carrots, roughly chopped

1 pineapple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tbsp honey

4 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

*Depending on the sweetness of your vegetables and pineapple you’ll want to adjust with more ketchup, vinegar, salt, etc. before serving in order to hit that perfect balance. Taste your food!


1. Season beef with salt and pepper and roll into 1-inch bite-sized meatballs.

2. Add prepped tomatoes, onion and carrot to a food processor and chop until smooth, then add pineapple and pulse so that it’s still a bit chunky. Add mixture to a very large pot, add oil, ginger, honey, ketchup, vinegar and salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer, add meatballs, and cook, partially covered, for two hours. Serve will roasted potatoes or matzo.

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