August 27, 2010

Meatless meatball party, part 4 - the finale!

It's the final week of meatless meatball reviews! Let's see how Quorn's Meatless Meatballs stack up. Also in this review, as promised, be sure to check out my Swedish meatball sauce recipe. It's super delicious, and I invented it myself!

On their website, Quorn brags that their meatballs are, "so flavorful and succulent that your meat-eating friends and family will not be able to tell the difference." This is the first Quorn product I've tried that isn't trying to be poultry… let's see how they do with beef!

Same routine for preparing them. Put them on a tray in the oven at 375 degrees for 10-ish minutes. (not precisely what the package says to do with them, but the idea is just to get them hot, which I accomplished) The first thing I have to say about these, is that they looked… not very meatball-like. Let's see… how can I put this delicately? Eh - I'll just say it - they looked like frozen dog poop. I mean, look at that picture! Would you want to put that in your mouth? Maybe if you cooked them in a sauce, they'd look more appetizing. But there you go. It is what it is.

We ate them anyway… let's hear from our guest reviewers:

April: Bit dry, good texture.
Dan: Poopy [I'm assuming he was describing the appearance], very nice texture, good seasoning taste.
Ginny: Most meatball-like; appearance: sunburned marshmallows. Springy; best with Swedish and BBQ; taste B+. Tastes better than it looks.
Anonymous: Good consistency and texture, best all around.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by these. They did have a very nice texture. They were definitely the most meat-like of anything else we ate that night, but I can't say for sure that I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between these and meat. By the time the night was over, I don't think I knew what meat was supposed to taste like anymore. So many different versions of meatless meatballs! I'd like to do a head-to-head at some point - perhaps a blind taste test? As far as sauces go, these were very good with both the BBQ sauce and the Swedish sauce, as Ginny said, but I didn't like it with the marinara. We'll stick with the Nate's meatballs for that one.

The experience:
Texture - Nicely chewy, pretty meat-like, as far as I could remember by the time we got to them
Flavor - Not much of a flavor to speak of on its own, but meatballs aren't usually eaten on their own, so that's okay.

Final grade for this attempt: A

I'd like to thank all of my guest reviewers for providing me with their insights for my meatless meatball month, and for being my most loyal readers for the past year. You guys are awesome! And now, the moment some of you have been eagerly waiting for…

Swedish Meatball Sauce
makes 2-3 cups of sauce

3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable broth or stock
1 tsp dill, more or less to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 cup sour cream (I use light sour cream, but you use whatever you'd like)

First up, gather and measure out all your ingredients before you start - some of this goes pretty quickly, and you don't want to be scrambling for ingredients at the last second.

In a 2-qt saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, melt the butter, then stir in the flour. Use a whisk to combine them thoroughly, and use a rubber spatula to make sure none of the roux (that's cooked flour + butter, is pronounced "roo", and is used to thicken your forthcoming sauce) gets stuck along the edge of the bottom of the pan. Let it cook for just a minute or two, stirring either with the whisk or spatula, your call, to cook out the starchy taste a little. You don't want to brown it, since this is a white sauce.

Next up, pour in your wine. If you have objections to using wine, you can substitute 1/4 cup vegetable stock. This will bubble like crazy - just keep whisking! It'll get really thick really fast, sort of like a pudding-consistency. This is right. Don't worry. As soon as it's all combined, whisk in your vegetable stock. It'll go back to being soupy and maybe lumpy - just keep whisking. As soon as the temperature approaches a boil again, it'll thicken up. Once it's nicely thickened, you can add in your salt, pepper, and dill, and leave it alone to bubble away over very low heat until you get close to needing it. It'll thicken up more as it simmers, so keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally. It's okay if it gets a little thicker than you were planning, because you're still going to add the sour cream. I wouldn't leave it simmering for more than 20-30 minutes - if you need that long, definitely put a lid on it (that will slow down evaporation), and/or pull it off the heat until closer to the time when you need it. As long as we're not talking hours, it'll still be safe.

A couple minutes before you're ready for it, stir in the sour cream. I have a range there, because some people might want more, some people might want less. Start with a half cup and taste it, adding more if you'd like. Only heat it until the sour cream is hot - do not let the sour cream boil! It will curdle and look unpleasant. It'll still taste okay, but it won't be as pretty. Finally, re-season with salt and pepper if it needs it, and serve!

If you're going to prepare this ahead of time, that works just fine - just prepare as written, and then refrigerate. It'll keep for a good week or two - just reheat it when you need it!

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