My view of Super Bowl Sunday forever changed after I read Tom Robbins’ Skinny Legs and All, wherein he sets forth that, as Americans, we share this one holiday, whether or not you like football, almost on a religious level. I might argue that Thanksgiving is another one, but I think he’s right about the devotion part. I’m not a football fan at all. In fact, when Super Bowl Sunday rolls around, I am thinking about what I should cook rather than which team has the edge. But I always look forward to it, even if I only notice who’s playing because CNN.com has a headline about it.
Super Bowl Sunday is about relishing the “naughty” parts of U.S. gastronomy, namely nachos and wings and guacamole and chili dips and bad beer and little sausages (which are both to eat and which are possessed by many gut-toting football fans in the Santa Maria, California area, complete with big trucks and Raiders stickers).
I generally loathe the American football culture (and I even played the sport in high school for a year), mostly because, for 4 months every year, the restaurant bar that my wife and I normally go to on date night is taken over by hoochie mamas and dickheads wearing Raiders and Cowboys jerseys. We usually go to play the trivia game on the television there. Just once, when I feel like getting my ass kicked for whatever reason, I’m going to demand that they keep the trivia game on for me during the playoffs just because I’m a paying customer and just to fuck with the football fans there. I’ll post it on youtube for sure.
But Super Bowl Sunday is special. Last year, I made Frito Pie with all sorts of unhealthy sundries for the masses. This year, I made a few dishes, like guacamole and lil’ Smokies warmed in chili sauce and grape jelly. But the star of the show was not the sausages. The balls. The balls reigned supreme this year.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned a book called The Meatball Shop Cookbook which my brother got me for XMas. I will be making my way through these recipes for the next year, to be sure, but the Buffalo Chicken Balls recipe caught my attention quickly, and I again have a keeper. Moreover, their recipe for bleu cheese dressing is, pardon the expression, so good I want to put my balls in it.
More to the point, these little bite-size balls are like crack and you won’t want to stop after you eat your first one. They’re also simple to make. I used turkey instead of chicken and it was fine.
Mini Buffalo Balls
(It says it makes about 40 3/4″ balls, but I got more like 50 1″ balls)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot or any wing-like sauce
1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
1 large egg
1 celery stalk, minced
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 450°. Drizzle the oil in a 9 x 13 baking disk and coat the entire surface of the dish.
Combine the butter and the hot sauce in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking until the butter is all melted and happy together with the sauce. Remove from the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
Then, combine the hot sauce mixture, the ground meat, egg, celery, bread crumbs, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Wash your hands and mix it by hand until everything is fully mixed. Don’t be afraid to handle the meat too much, kiddo.
Roll the mixture into round 3/4″ to 1″ balls and make sure they’re well-packed. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, and line them up snugly so that they form a grid vertically and horizontally. They all should be touching each other.
Roast these for 20 minutes, until they’re cooked through (165° on the meat thermometer). Let them cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing.
Bleu Cheese Dressing (so simple to make)
Makes 2 cups
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
dash of black pepper
Put everything in a medium bowl and whisk it well until well combined. Taste for seasoning. Transfer it to a serving bowl and dip your balls into it.
These are perfect for people who don’t like chicken on the bone. Everyone’s happy and Super Bowl Sunday has never been better.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.
©Jon Marino 2013