Iftaar 2011

Once a year, Martin and I throw an Iftaar party. Friends from all over the North East come, eat and have fun. It’s really one of the few times a year friends actually venture out to Connecticut to visit us. This year our furthest guests were from Rhode Island. Like in previous years, we had such a wonderful time. Even after cleaning up and finally sitting down to relax around 2 am we kept talking about our evening with our friends.

The only thing that fell short, in my opinion, was the food. Which makes me sad, I had higher expectations for how things should have turned out. Unlike previous years, we decided on a mostly non-Asian menu. We also decided to order some food so that I wouldn’t have to be cooking for 30 people on my own.

The appetizers of crab rangoon, scallion pancakes and fruit salad were a hit! I thought the scallion pancakes would have been better with their dipping sauce, but I decided not to risk having cups of soy sauce spilling over. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos to share (I know I know! I’ll remember next time. It was just too hectic getting everything ready).

The dinner menu was fried chicken (from Kennedy’s) meatball subs, and lasagna. Martin reported that the fried chicken was hit or miss, the fresher pieces were better. The lasagna was also good, and I was happy with how it turned out. The meatball subs fell a little short. When I usually make the subs, the meatballs are much softer, so soft they almost fall apart. For some reason the meatballs I made at the iftaar were a bit tougher than I had hoped. I followed the recipe I always use, except that I had to increase the serving size. But still. Just not as good. Perhaps it was the the meat itself? I’m not sure.

Either way, these meatballs are usually really awesome. And probably one of my favorite discoveries this past year of cooking. Hopefully you’ll have better luck than I did!

Makes 30ish meatballs. When I make it for just us I use 1/2 lb ground beef.

Recipe:

2 pound ground beef (although, chicken would work well too)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
Olive oil
3 slices of white bread crumbled
4 cups prepared tomato sauce (plus extra if you like a lot of extra sauce)

Place the fresh breadcrumbs in a large bowl with 3/4 cup warm water and all of the meatball ingredients except for the olive oil and tomato sauce. Combine with a fork, breaking up clumps of meat until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Form mixture into 2-inch meatballs are arrange on a tray.

Heat a generous slick of oil (few tablespoons) in a large saute pan with a lid. Brown meatballs in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan or nudge them before they are nicely browned or they will stick. Transfer meatballs to a paper towel-lined tray and continue until they are all browned.

Discard the oil and heat your tomato sauce in the pan. Add the meatballs, cover the pan and simmer them on the lowest heat possible for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

Arrange meatballs with sauce in the hollowed-out roll(s) and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Recipe notes: I tired to be an overachiever and baked baguettes too, but store bought ones work just fine. If you buy a baguette, cut it in half and scoop out a channel for the meatballs to sit in, otherwise meatballs will spill out. You can use the scooped bread instead of the sliced bread.

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