I was going to make these meatballs for my family a couple of weeks ago, but alas, plans got a little displaced and before I knew it, we were boiling penne and using bottled marinara.
A night away without the necessities (you know, contact lens liquid, toothbrushes and of course, food of substance,) left me feeling a little frustrated and completely let down.
But as I looked across the long table, seating 10 of my most beloved, I realized that it really wasn’t about the food. Nor was it about my absurd disappointment that the dinner I had meticulously planned had somehow ended up with forgotten groceries.
What we did have however was a grand candlelit gathering, friends and family sharing good conversation, children in the background running and laughing and playing, a picturesque blanket of freshly fallen snow and a roaring fire. And honestly, what more can someone really ask for?
Anyway, when I finally got home and had the opportunity to make this meatball recipe that I had been dreaming about, I realized it was a good thing I hadn’t made them when I had initially planned as that would have meant the absence of toasted sesame oil which for me, is paramount in this dish. And originally, I hadn’t thought of adding a glaze at all, which would have been tragic because the sesame oil is really the IT thing in this recipe. It adds that subtle burst of flavour and colour and it’s quite perfect against the meaty texture, savory undertones and sweet honey flavour. My children really loved that the meatballs were crispy on the outside and yet, still very moist on the inside. Next time, I think I’ll flatten them a bit and make a homemade dipping sauce. Possibly toasted sesame and ginger? Or maybe a creamy miso?
During the evening, my daughter quietly leaned over and whispered, ” It’s so warm in here mommy.”
At first, I nodded in agreement as I witnessed everyone peeling off layers of clothing. The fireplace gave off intense warmth. A beautiful dim light. A cozy, remarkable feeling. But then, I realized she was referring to the feeling, metaphorically speaking. A room filled with people she adored. A warm, fuzzy, delightful feeling. Safe and happy.
I completely understood.
I am so glad we sat there together that night and shared a humble meal because it was about so much more than the food. That’s what I always imagined for this house. Lots of family and friends. I could always see their faces and hear their laughter and feel their love. And it should never be solely about the meal. It should be about the conversation and the company and the people.
Always about the people.
As we embark on a new year, that’s what I want more of. That’s my resolution. More simple gatherings with family and good friends. Effortless food. Good conversation. Roaring fires and board games and laughing. A simpler life really. As I grow older, I realize that’s what I want. And more importantly, it’s honestly what I need in order to maintain healthy insights and stay focused and feel truly content. Without all the fuss and madness and energy- depleting preparation for every little thing. It’s about more impromptu everything I say. Happy New Year dear friends.
Asian inspired chicken meatballs with ginger, sesame + honey
1 lb ground chicken
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t fresh grated ginger
1 t garlic salt
½ t ground pepper
2 t fish sauce
2 T toasted sesame oil
3 T green onion, minced plus more for garnish
2 T tamari
1 egg, beaten
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Mix all ingredients together and form into 2-inch balls. Bake on parchment lined baking sheet at 350 convection for about 30 min. Make sure they are cooked through (no longer pink inside.) I usually broil mine for an additional 5 minutes of so, so I can get that nice crispy coating.
For the glaze:
½ C honey
3 T toasted sesame oil
2 T tamari
1 t fresh minced ginger
½ clove, minced garlic
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T fish sauce
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to boil remove from heat. Toss the meatballs in the glaze and top with toasted sesame seeds and green onions. Serve immediately.
Nicholetta Bokolas is the author of the food blog Pepper + Paint. She is a wife, mother and lover of all things fresh and local. She believes good food is meant to be shared and loves coming up with unique recipes that feed both the body and the soul. You can follow Pepper and Paint on facebook and twitter.