So this guy walks into a bar. He sits down next to me and proceeds to quiz me about my life. He's so intrigued, listening intently even with all the shenanigans going on around us. It's not all that loud though. We're the pre-happy hour group, employees of the local Anheuser-Busch distributor. For most of the guys, the day begins early, with beer being slung from the truck to the store shelves by 6am. For me and my counterpart, we're in the dead time between split shifts. By day we schmooze with bar owners to get beer specials, by night we schmooze with the college kids to convince them that Bud heavy isn't just their dad's beer. But back to this guy, he's charming, intelligent, hilarious and a gentleman, with just a touch of a bad boy edge.
Fast forward 13 years later and this beer man has won my heart, given me two beautiful girls and made Kentucky my home. He's still a beer man, but he's moved up considerably in both position and flavor profile to the craft brew segment. He brought this magazine from one of his trips and I was inspired to make many of the recipes but chose this one, Lamb Meatballs in Tomato-Beer Broth, for National Drink-a-Beer Day.
Per my usual style of cooking, I used what I had on hand (ground chicken instead of lamb, for example) and made the recipe my own. I took their suggestion for an amber ale and used New Belgium Fat Tire in the tomato broth. The result was beautiful and made a delicious dinner. It was written to be an appetizer but I had some leftover Cumin-Spiced Lentils and Rice that echoed the Mediterranean flavor of the meatballs.
And, since the recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of beer, please enjoy the remainder while you make this recipe. I would hate to see good beer go to waste, especially on National Drink-a-Beer Day!
Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs with Fat Tire-Tomato Broth
1 lb ground chicken breast
½ cup onion, minced
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper, ground
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 Tbs dried parsley
3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
½ cup New Belgium Fat Tire amber ale
2 tsp salt, divided
1 Tbs (0.5 fl oz/15 ml) olive oil
2 Tbs garlic, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Combine all the ingredients except the feta in a mixing bowl and mix well. Using a 1 inch cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop the meat mixture and form into meatballs about the size of a walnut. Arrange on a silpat-lined cookie sheet and bake until internal temp reaches 165, about 14 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, beer, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan with a lid. Place on low heat and simmer, allowing the tomatoes to soften, for about 40 minutes. Gently press the tomatoes with a potato masher, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a heat-safe bowl and discard the solids.
Return the saucepan to the stove and warm the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, red pepper, and thyme and sweat slowly, for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato liquid to the pan and simmer until reduced by one third or desired richness. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.
To serve as an appetizer, place a toothpick in each meatball, gently pour broth over the meatballs and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.