A woman walks into a bar…. wait, wrong story. I was sitting and watching a cooking show with my P.S. On ‘Chopped’, someone was going to take meatballs, give them a coating, and deep fry them. I turned to my P.S. and said “I could do that! I could combine my two favorite things: breading on a corndog and my ricotta meatballs!”
Unusual for me, but I didn’t easily find a recipe that was exactly what I envisioned. Many recipes add a crumb covering to meatballs and serve them on sticks as appetizers, but none seemed to have the smooth cornmeal coating of a corndog. Eventually I chose a recipe that was used to make mini corndogs and proceeded from there.
My next step was to make the meatballs. I was going to use my tried and true (and raved about) meatball recipe, but I knew I’d need just a step up in flavors because of the lack of marinara sauce. What I mean is that my “meatballs like lasagna” are like lasagna because they are part of a flavorful marinara sauce. I’d need some extra flavors in the meatballs so that they were delicious from within. We could dip them in a sauce afterwards, but I didn’t want that to be the only defining flavor.
I decided to add the basil I’d use in a sauce to the meat, as well as chopped green onions. That would give me a light onion flavor and add more Italian-ness to the meat in the form of basil. And of course I would add some sauteed sweet red peppers. I also added a small amount of garlic powder and a good pinch of cayenne for a touch of heat.
Mixing the pork, beef, ricotta and spices with my hands thoroughly, I then used a cookie scoop to form round balls on a baking sheet. I used my hands to roll the balls smoothly before liberally sprinkling with flour. Then I browned them well in a skillet, one batch at a time. I put the browned meatballs into a dish in the oven and baked them for about 30 minutes. I had doubled my meatball recipe, and froze half for later use, so my picture shows a whole lot more than 40 meatballs.
As the meatballs cooled a bit, I mixed the batter for the cornbread coating. It was a simple flour, cormeal, milk, and egg batter that I mixed in a medium bowl. It was a bit too stiff so I used more milk to thin the batter a little. I used a bamboo skewer and dipped the meatball into the batter, then decided that was not going to work. It was easier to drop the meatball into the batter, lift it with a fork, then grasp it with two fingers and carefully drop it into the saucepan I’d use to heat oil. I let it fry until it was golden brown, stirring to make sure all sides were getting browned evenly, then removed it and set it onto paper toweling. The cornballs looked like I had imagined them.
It took about 30 minutes to fry all of the meatballs. I fried about 4 or 5 at a time so I could keep turning them. As they were done I put them on paper towelling then into the oven in a heatproof dish at 250 degrees to stay warm. I was eager to try one, but made myself wait until I was finished frying.
Yummy! It was kind of fun to eat a cornball! I decided it should have a new name, and since it was a corny creation, it was now a cornball. A dipping sauce would be a natural accompaniment, and I had mulled that over while I made the cornballs. With the corn coating, ketchup was my first thought. My second was maybe the meatball dictated a marinara dip instead. Eventually I decided to scrap both logical dips and settle on a honey mustard dip, for a unique contrast. And because lately everything I’ve eaten that required dipping has come with honey mustard sauce, so I’m sort of in that mode already.
I whisked the ingredients for the honey mustard and put it into a bowl for dipping. It was a delicious way to eat meatballs. I’ve probably found a way to add the most calories possible to a previously fairly low-calorie meatball. I’m ashamed of myself. For a minute, while I’m trotting out to the kitchen to refill my plate. I’ll put another mile or two on the treadmill tonight, I promise. I’ll admit they were still really good microwaved the second day.
Cornballs were fun to eat, but making them really was more work than I’d expected. The corn coating itself wasn’t so noticeable with the good flavors from the meatballs and the honey mustard sauce. The coating added a little crunch, but nothing more. I’m not sure I’d ever make these again. My curiosity is satisfied. My P.S. loved them and has hopes I’ll thaw the second half of the meatballs and do this again. We’ll see.
Ricotta Meatballs (Revised)
1/2# ground beef
1/2# ground pork
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup diced sweet red peppers
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
large pinch cayenne
flour for dusting
Mix all ingredients and scoop into balls with a large cookie scoop. Roll each ball in your hands to smooth. Dust each meatball with flour.
Heat large nonstick skillet on medium high heat with a tablespoon of oil.
Brown meatballs on several sides in hot skillet, one batch at a time.
Place meatballs into an ovenproof baking dish and bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
Allow meatballs to cool while you mix the cornbread coating.
Makes about 40 meatballs.
1 cup milk + more to thin if necessary
2 medium eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup flour
1 1/3 cups corn meal
Canola oil for frying
Whisk milk with eggs, oil, sugar and salt until mixed well. Add the baking powder, cornmeal, and 2/3 cup flour and whisk until smooth. Add more milk to thin if necessary.
Insert stick or skewer into meatball. Dip in cornmeal mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Drop into heated oil. Fry until golden brown.
I had about half of the coating left over, so you could cut in it half and have plenty for 40 meatballs.
Honey Mustard Sauce
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
3 tablespoons honey