Good meat, a deep smoky flavor. . . how could that possibly go wrong? Well, that works all the time, at least for my taste, and I’m sure it does for most.
We’re off to make meatballs here with all the smoky flavor you’d get from a traditional bbq, without any bbq sauce, making them perfect for almost any dish, including this basic tomato-based angel hair pasta.
Start with a good aromatic base of shallots and garlic. Chop them as fine as you could so you don’t get big chunks of them in your meatballs. Having big chunks would be not so pleasant to chew on to, and they’ll get in the way of that smooth texture we’re trying to achieve.
Get them caramelizing slowly in a pan to get their natural sugars out. Go low and slow, stirring constantly to keep them from burning and consequently turning bitter.
Let the sauteed aromatics completely cool before adding it into your beef mince to keep the meat from “cooking”.
Add all the other ingredients – the egg for binding, the breadcrumbs to make for a light texture, the yogurt for some moisture, and of course the spices for that bbq flavor.
We want a bbq flavor, so a mix of garlic powder, paprika, cumin, granulated ginger, and black pepper would surely work. To amp the smoky flavor, we’re putting in some liquid smoke too.
Work in any spices you wish at this point if you’re going for a totally different flavor profile. Substitute this spice mix with some masala to make the recipe fit for an Indian dinner, or go for a Provencale herb blend to keep things Italian.
18 grams of salt per kilogram of mince is pretty standard. Adjust according to your taste – take a little portion for frying, and taste to check if you’ve seasoned enough.
Mix everything lightly, being careful not to overwork the meat to keep the meatballs from toughening up. Handling ground beef too much would break down proteins, causing them to cross-link, and turn tough. Keep this in mind all through shaping the meatballs, pressing them gently into form.
These meatballs are ready for cooking. Giving them about 10 minutes in the freezer would make bagging them easier.
It would be best to seal them up in your sous vide bag via water displacement. Too much pressure from the use of a vacuum sealer could deform these meatballs.
An hour at 140F with an immersion circulator of your choice would be enough to get your meatballs cooked perfectly moist and tender. I wouldn’t advise going any longer than an hour which would soften up the meat too much, giving it a texture much similar to a pate.
Get the bag into an ice bath to stop further cooking. Getting the internal temperature of these balls down would keep them from cooking all through the inside as they hit the hot searing pan.
Finish them off for about a minute in a hot non-stick pan, rolling them once in a while for an even sear.
Serve them straight with a dip, or with your favorite pasta sauce and noodles.