Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Meatballs with White Caper Sauce

Holiday office party vittles come to you in post no. 11 ...

Too much food! That's the only way to describe the office progressive potluck today.

In case you're wondering what it is, the instructional email provided this guidance: "A progressive meal is eating one course at one location, then moving on to another location for your next course. No need to carry your plate from location to location – each food station will be equipped with plates, utensils and beverages."

Our wise potluck planners made full use of gravity. Appetizers were spotted on the sixth floor. After perusing some 30 to 40 dishes (including my meatballs with white caper sauce), revellers rolled down to the third floor break room for the main event. Dessert and coffee ended the rolling potluck on the first floor.

Each floor was a meal unto itself. After eating full plates on six and three, we welcomed the smaller dessert plates in the first flour executive offices.

Most of my co-workers wallowed back to their cubicles and attempted to work for the rest of the afternoon.

An appetizer recipe

I began my search for an appetizer recipe yesterday afternoon. I knew that my shopping list had to be in hand when I stepped off the bus. This recipe adapted from a recipe published on the Restaurant Hospitality magazine website.

Meatballs with white caper sauce appealed on several levels. First, it was relatively easy to prepare. The meatballs came together in less than 30 minutes.

It took another 20 minutes in the oven to finish the meatballs. The 67 meatballs (my wife snagged one!) fit snugly in a 3-quart Rubbermaid container. The sauce came together in about 30 minutes. It traveled to work in a second container.

The recipe added a certain "wow" to the Christmas festivities at work. I enjoy bringing dishes to potluck meals that are a little out of the mainstream -- at least out of the potluck mainstream.

Caper sauce has a long history in European culinary circles. It often accompanies boiled mutton, fish and meatballs. Caper sauce seems to have its origins with the savory veloute sauce -- a stock-based white sauce made with veal, chicken or fish stock.

Most modern examples, like chef Hans Aeschbacher's recipe from Restaurant Hospitality, use the creamy bechemel sauce as the base for caper sauce. The simplest way to prepare the sauce is to add two tablespoons of drained capers to one cup of white sauce, hollandaise or mayonnaise. The added zip will surprise you.


You're looking for a light to medium white sauce -- one that coats without clumping or pooling between the meatballs. For a richer sauce, whisk two or three pats of soft unsalted butter into the warm sauce just before serving.

1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1-1/2 pounds lean ground pork
6 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups dry Italian flavored breadcrumbs
1-1/2 cup onion, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup minced onion
1 ounce unsalted butter
1 ounce all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup small capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Combine beef, pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Add more bread crumbs if needed to form balls that hold their shape. Shape meat mixture into 1-inch balls with a 1-ounce ladle or no. 30 disher. Bake in 350°F oven 18-20 minutes to medium-well doneness, until not pink in center and juices show no pink color.

Meanwhile, combine wine and onion in medium saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat 5-7 minutes, or until reduced to 1/2 cup. Add cream and cloves and reduce further by 1/2. Reduce heat to medium. Add milk to wine-cream mixture while stirring.

Make a white roux with butter and flour. Slowly whisk in roux and cook until until sauce is thickened. Remove from heat. Strain if desired for smooth sauce. Add capers, salt and pepper. Combine meatballs and sauce. Serve banquet-style in chafing dish or from steam table. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 65 to 70 meatballs.

No comments:

Post a Comment