Meatballs for Goodness

After all these years, my nana's meatball recipe is still nurturing and comforting. I am delighted to share once again a simple recipe filled with goodness. Thank you nana for teaching me the essentials of a recipe, even those ingredients not listed here. 

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Nana’s Meatballs, as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Makes 12 Jumbo, 24 large or 40 mini meatballs

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3 pounds ground beef, 80 / 20 blend; can use combo of beef, pork, and veal

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 sweet onion, chopped fine

2 eggs, cracked and beaten

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 cups day old Italian bread, pulsed into crumbs

1/2 cup chicken broth, to soften bread crumbs (variable amount may have to add more broth just to soften crumbs) 

Fresh ground black pepper

* Note all ingredients should be very cold before blending. 

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In a mixer or by hand mix all ingredients until well blended. Dip hands in ice water before shaping into round balls.

Spray an oven-roasting pan with grease spray.

Use an ice cream and scoop up meatballs; roll by hand until they are shaped round. Do not over handle as to not over warm up meat. Repeat until all meat is used up. Do not over crowd meatballs to make it easier to move them while baking. 

Refrigerate meatballs for at least 30 minutes to chill. Prepare Tomato Sauce below.

Pre heat a large heavy gauge sauté pan to high heat, or if making a large quantity of meatballs brown in a hot oven at 425 degrees F. 

Roast meatballs for five minutes in oven or on stovetop just until they begin to brown. If roasting gently shake pan to move meatballs to turn over, or use a spatula for meatballs if browning in sauté pan. Continue cooking for a few additional minutes (or less if mini) or until meatballs are brown on the outside. Meatballs will not be fully cooked and will continue to cook in tomato sauce. 

Remove meatballs with a spatula and add to gently simmering sauce and continue cooking for 20-30 minutes. 

For the Tomato Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 

1/2 cup minced sweet onion

6 cloves garlic, minced 

2 (28 ounce) cans crushed San Marzano Tomatoes

2 (6.5 ounce) cans tomato sauce

1 Tablespoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon oregano

Fresh ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons each fresh chopped parsley and basil

In a large saucepot sauté add olive oil, onion, and garlic over medium heat until light brown. Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season with dried basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, pepper, and half of the parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cooked browned meatballs and top with fresh chopped parsley and basil before serving. 

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Bologna Inspired

The cold weather is about to enter into the low digits; so light a roaring fire in the fireplace and keep the big soup pot at the ready. You could make my Baked Potato Soup as a quick way to warm up. Or, how about cooking-up a brothy and hearty tortellini soup. (The tortellini originates from the north-cental part of Italy). Serve with my Fennel & Green Bean Salad and Homemade Biscuits for a complete meal. 

BTW--To answer a much often asked viewer question about my TV show; yes, 100% of my recipes are cooked on air and are eaten by my TV crew. Hey, it’s part of their job!

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Tortellini Basil Soup

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1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup sweet onion, chopped

8 cloves caramelized garlic

1 cup canned San Marzano Tomatoes, chopped

4 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

1 quarter cup fresh spinach leaves, shredded

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

8 ounces cheese tortellini

1 cup small white beans, cooked or canned

Pinch nutmeg

Grated parmesan cheese to taste

Fresh ground black pepper

Pre heat a medium soup pot to medium temperature.

Add olive oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and add tortellini, spinach, basil, and white beans. Simmer until tortellinis are al dente and season with nutmeg, pepper. Add parmesan cheese to taste. Serve with a basil leaf on top. 

NOTE: This recipe requires a good quality tortellini if you are cooking the pasta in the broth. A lesser quality tortellini will make the soup starchy. If you are not sure of the quality, cook the tortellini separately and add pasta to the soup right before serving. 

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Ribs and Sauce

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Ribs & Sauce — a perfect relationship

Everyone has a favorite way to serve ribs. Some like it dry with just a rub, others will dip dry ribs and wet them down with a vinegary sauce; or slather them up with a sugary sticky sauce right before coming off the grill. I'm often asked how I like my ribs the best. Really, I like them both ways, it just depends on what mood I'm in. It's definitely going to be a sticky rib weekend!

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Ribs cannot be prepared in a hurry, so toss a burger on a separate hot grill while you wait. How-to prepare the Ribs.

For Making Ribs with Sticky Sauce:

15 minutes prior to removing the slow cooked ribs, brush ribs lightly with a little sauce to moisten and add flavor. Remove, cut and serve ribs as is or serve extra sauce on side for pouring over ribs. 

GH Rib Sauce Recipe

 Makes 3 cups

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1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon thyme

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons fresh grated orange zest

1 cup ketchup 

1 cup tomato sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

Place the onion, green onions, garlic, cumin, thyme, vinegar, orange juice, and sugar in a small pot.  Boil until the vinegar is reduced by half.  Add orange zest, soy sauce, ketchup, tomato sauce, hot sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.

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Soup's On

 Tomato Soup as Seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Tomato Soup as Seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

When the weather dips like this weekend- going from the high 70s to mid 40s, it’s time for a homemade bowl of comfort, soup. Please forego the salt-lick canned version, because you can make a flavorful and nutritious potage in under an hour. And now is ideal for Autumn vegetables like cauliflower, squash and yams, which add a lot of extra flavor. 

But what to keep in mind with any soup recipe, or any recipe for that matter is, a recipe is just a guideline. Use a recipe as a guide and improvise with what you have at home. Making soup is an ideal way to convert leftovers into a hearty meal.

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Today I made a spicy black bean, chicken & rice soup made from leftover yesterday's dish. Simply sauté a carrot, 1/4 onion, 2 garlic cloves and added 2 pints of chicken broth with the 1 cup of leftover cooked rice and beans. After adding all ingredients to the pot, I added one chopped chicken breast. After simmering for thirty minutes I finished the soup with 1 cup of fresh baby spinach. 

Tip: Do you like a soup thick and hearty? Add a sliced potato or a yam. Don’t have time to wait for the potatoes to cook, then add stale toasted baguette bread as a thickener to the soup. Also, keep canned beans handy; they make a great base for a soup with the addition of small size pasta.

For My Five Onion Soup Recipe

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GEORGE HIRSCH’S SLOPPY GIUSEPPE BURGER

Grilled slider served on a potato roll, with pickled bourbon peppers, an Italian style sweet sloppy Joe sauce, topped with crisp sriracha slaw from Sep’s Farm fresh veggies and a side of garlic kettle chips. 

George's SLOPPY GIUSEPPE a winning combination

Grilling a winning burger from the bun up takes time and the freshest farm picked ingredients. For my SLOPPY GIUSEPPE, the peppers were farm picked and pickled the same day, two months ahead of adding to my burger. I used a colorful mix of vine ripen sweet and hot peppers, and the vinegary brine was topped off with bourbon for added zip. The Sloppy Sauce is a homemade sweetened Italian tomato sauce, and the slaw—a mixture of crunch tossed at the last moment in a creamy sriracha dressing. With no compromise to the meat tossed on the grill, my signature special meat blend, and the only bun of distinction worthy for such honest “sloppy goodness’ is soft potato roll.   

GEORGE HIRSCH’S SLOPPY GIUSEPPE BURGER

Makes 8, *¼ pound burgers.

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*weight before cooking

1 3/4 pounds ground beef, short rib blend, 80/20 lean / fat ratio

3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Accompaniments: Potato Rolls, mix of sweet & hot vinegar peppers, sloppy sauce, sriracha slaw, 

In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine beef and sausage meat and mix with a fork, taking care not to overwork the meat. Divide into 8 or 10 equal portions and form into 3/4 inch thick patties. Use raw meat from two of the above formed burgers for sloppy sauce. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Sloppy Sauce

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Makes about 2 Quarts, or enough topping for 16 SLOPPY GIUSEPPE burgers.

2 Tablespoons Olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onions, sweet red peppers

8 cloves fresh garlic, chopped fine

1 15 ounce can each Tomato Sauce & Tomato Puree

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

1 pint of IPA

1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano

2 bay leaves

2 cups water

Pre heat a saucepot to medium temperature. Add olive oil and two burger patties browning lightly; add onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook for two additional minutes, do not brown vegetables. Add all remaining ingredients using water to rinse out any additional tomato sauce left in cans. Simmer for 45 minutes. Keep warm until topping burgers. 

For Slaw & Dressing as seen on George Hirsch Lifestyle

Vegetables: 1 small head shredded white cabbage, one 1/2 head shredded red cabbage, 2 grated carrots, 1/4 sweet thinly sliced onion, 2 cloves finely chopped garlic, and 3 chopped green onions. Mix 2 cups mayonnaise, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce, 1/4 cup sriracha, 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, pepper and sea salt to taste. Add dressing to slaw thirty minutes before serving. 

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Place the burgers on a hot grill and cook about 3-4 minutes per side, turning once. 

Serve on lightly toasted Martin’s Potato Rolls, first peppers, burger, sloppy sauce, and slaw. Serve extra Sloppy Sauce on side with plenty of napkins. 

Note: If you don’t see ground short rib beef in your butcher shop, by all means ask for it. Whenever you’re mixing any ground meat product, it’s a good practice to have the meat and bowl well chilled. Not only will a chilled bowl cut down on bacterial growth, it will help bind the meat. If possible, use a metal bowl for mixing the ingredients and place it in the freezer beforehand. If your kitchen is warm, place the bowl over a bowl of ice when you’re incorporating the meat with the spices.

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