Mini Buffalo Balls

7 Feb

Super Bowl Fun 019

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 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

Makin’ It:

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

Makin’ It:

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.

Super Bowl Fun 015

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


3 Responses to “Mini Buffalo Balls”

  1. tyson February 7, 2013 at 1:26 am #

    when you mixed everything including the sauce did you hit the balls with the sauce again.? or could you still get the heat with just one turn of sauce. also was the extra butter needed ? alot of wing sauces have butter or a liquid butter like substance whirl or something like that. i like to taste the heat in these type of snacks. i have been making my own bleu cheese like that almost to the letter. i hit it with a bit more fresh cracked pepper. base. i was a short order cook for many years while in hs and a bit through college. I used to make my own wing sauce using franks as the base. i was at spoon bar and grill. ppl loved it. my boss had to create my own modifier cause they outsold the spoons wings to the bar guys like 3-1 .i never revealed my sauce i would just make enough for the day or enough for two if i was off. the cooperate chef was irate. He told my gm i couldnt make my wings any more. the next week the office had about 50 letters from angry customers. (that chef was an asshole) he gave in. the store started selling it by the pint to go. one customer offered me 150 bucks for the recipe. a ton of money who was making 7.50 an hour living on his own. i turned him down. the fact is i never even wrote down the recipe. now i want to see if i can try it out again. i loved that sauce put it on everything. i dont know if you remember but a bunch of us mac grill peeps would come into your fridays when i was the exec chef. i had no culinary degree just loved cooking. this is an awesome blog you r doing. i was like guy fieri before he was. i stopped working in the kitchen at mac cause it became terribly cooperate and no room at all for creativity. its just my wife and myself and she works most nights at the balboa bay club so i rarely cook anymore, and even if she is home she hates what i cook . i cook with flavors and she thinks cilantro is too spicy. i look forward to more of these bro, i may try to send you something if i ever get around to it. my biggest issue is i never used set recipes. i always winged it. . again great job here jon.

  2. jonnyprecious February 7, 2013 at 3:11 am #

    Whenever you want to send a recipe this way, or whenever you want to post something on here, like a guest blogger thing, let me know, dude. I am honored that an actual chef would enjoy this blog…I’m kind of beside myself, to be honest.

    The wings sauce is just straight ol’ Frank’s Red Hot. My situation is just like yours in the wife department: she hates cilantro and spice, which just devastates me (thus I have Steak and Sherlock night…my night to cook for myself). As far as the balls, I personally would toss them with sauce after they’ve baked for my taste. I like nut-kicking spice, but not to cover everything up.

    I totally remember you guys hanging at Fridays. If I could bartend once a month again, I would. My favorite part of it was serving all of the restaurant employees when they got off of work, like you guys…it’s also how I met my wife. It’s a subculture (the cooks, the waiters, the bartenders) that has defined who I am to a large extent. Teaching is the same thing, really…dealing with 30 people with different needs at any given time…same thing. Just an FYI, Guy Fieri’s wife was a coworker of mine at Fridays. When he first got famous, I totally didn’t know that he was “Lori’s” Guy until someone pointed it out to me because he looks so much different now (same personality, though).

    Your reply made my evening. Thanks man. Feedback is what I want and thanks for taking the time.

  3. perfectcrumb February 9, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    Ahhh Johnny. Franks red hot makes everything better! Can’t wait to try it with ground meat.

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