Spending your lazy Sunday arguing with T-Mobile and churning out job applications like a rabid animal isn’t generally something to brag about to the world. Sometimes though, there isn’t any other way to force yourself to do “un-fun” things (think filing your taxes, laundry, finally getting rid of the 10-day old pork fried rice in your refrigerators vegetable drawer) than to make it into a day-long event. I quarantined myself inside my junior-1 bedroom apartment with a significant supply of espresso and 90’s movies that I have had memorized for half of my life, thus requiring minimal attention (Twister, in particular).
I got it done…and my reward? Meatball Monday. I had it all picked out by about 9:10am at work, which is actually a new record for me. I waited for my girlfriend to wake up, knowing that if I texted her on her day off before she rose voluntarily to talk to her about meatballs, that she might not be there when I got home. I wrote out the text, left it in the “drafts” section of my phone, and sent it the moment she made contact…
“So I want to make chicken and apple meatballs tonight. I’m thinking a cranberry sweet and sour glaze with possible broccoli or some other kind of vegetable to go with it. I’m thinking potatoes will be too heavy as a side so I’ll stick with broccoli…what do you think??”
“I think that I literally haven’t even sat up in bed yet”
She generally accepts that the earlier I bombard her with dinner inquiries, the more stagnant my day is looking to be. Mustering through the drone of office chitchat and halogen lights baking my scalp, I swallowed a breath of satisfyingly fresh air upon touching the grocery store cart. Freedom!
I decided to go with a play on chicken and apple sausages by making chicken and apple meatballs with a sweet and sour cranberry glaze, because that slight crunch of the shredded apple and cooked onion inside the juicy seared chicken is kind of hard to resist. This is also because I have a particular affinity for mixing sweet and savory whenever humanly possible. Taste buds MUST FEEL EVERYTHING.
Recipe below, makes about 4 portions:
1 ¼ lb ground chicken
One small yellow onion, chopped finely
One large granny smith apple, peeled and shredded with cheese grater (or whatever you want)
Poultry seasoning (mostly paprika, garlic, onion powder)
Plain bread crumbs (you’ll need a lot, until the mixture is held together well and doesn’t fall apart)
OPTIONAL: maple/garlic rub…which is AWESOME and was purchased on my ski trip to Vermont. I.just.love.maple.so.much.
One can of jellied cranberry
Worcestershire sauce (to taste)
Soy sauce (to taste)
More poultry seasoning
Agave (a few squeezes)
I heated up some veggie oil and rolled the chicken mix into little cocktail size meatballs. Saute them until they are seared well on each side, and a little longer to get them cooked through. Something about that satisfying sear on the chicken was entirely crucial for me today (psychologically…sear marks = BBQ=summer=happy…am I reaching here?). Plop them onto a plate when you’re done and drain out most of the oil. Drop in the sauce ingredients and stir until the cranberry melts down the sauce has been simmering for a few minutes. Taste it. Always taste it. If you’re cooking for somebody other than yourself or your significant other, just don’t keep dipping the same spoon into the sauce every time you try it. Rinse and repeat…Simple adjustment…
Boil/steam/prepare broccoli however you want. I add a bouillon cube to the water when I boil them so they get a little extra flavor. Drop the meatballs back into the sauce and stir to coat. Simmer another minute or two and you’re goooooood. The sauce should be the texture of a glaze and sweet and awesome. It should NOT be splattered ALL over the stove, wall and cabinet doors, but not everything always happens like it should.
Crack a beer and go crazy. Or if you’re me, sit down at the coffee table (this is New York, dining rooms are a myth) and have your girlfriend stare at you, wrinkling her forehead, and ask what in the world is splattered all over your shirt.
It’s jellied cranberry. And I’m not even sorry.