Recipe by Damon Lee Fowler, featuring
Salt Table’s Dave’s House Salt
Meatballs are a great hot appetizer, and can be varied by simmering them in just about any sauce. Here the sauce is based on the French classic beef stew a la bourguignon, but you can change it up by substituting barbecue, marinara, a Southeast-Asian-style spicy-sweet sauce, or even your favorite Stroganoff.
Dave’s House Salt, with its onion, garlic, porcini mushrooms, and spicy jalapeno, is a great blend for this, but you might also try a combination of Salt Table’s Porcini or Black Truffle Salt and Old Man River Blend, both in the meatballs and the sauce.
Makes about 48-50 small cocktail meatballs, serving 8-12
For the meatballs:
- 2 slices firm, home-style bread
- Whole milk
- 1½ pounds ground beef chuck
- Salt Table Dave’s House Salt
- Olive or vegetable oil
- For the sauce:
- 2 slices extra-thick-cut bacon (about 2 ounces), diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped fine
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped fine
- 2 ounces (about 1 cup) finely chopped brown (crimini or baby bella) mushrooms
- ¼ cup flour
- 3 cups French Burgundy or Pinot Noir
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt Table’s Dave’s House Salt
How to make it:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400° F. Put the bread in a mixing bowl and drizzle enough milk over it to saturate it. Let it soak for a minute, then squeeze it dry, discarding the milk. Crumble the bread back into the bowl. Crumble in the beef, season well with House Salt, and mix well.
- Rub a large rimmed sheet pan with oil. Moisten your hands with water and form the meat into 1-inch balls, laying them on the prepared pan as you go with about ½-inch between them. When all the meatballs have been shaped and placed on the pan, put them in the center of the oven and bake until they’re nicely browned, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce: put the bacon in a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until it’s browned and it’s fat is rendered. Add the onion and sauté until softened but not coloring, about 2 minutes. Then add the carrot and sauté 2 minutes more. Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté until they’re beginning to color, about 4 minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour into the pan and stir until smooth. Slowly stir in the wine and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Then add the broth, bring it to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened. Stir in the tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf, and season to taste with Dave’s House Salt. Bring it back to a simmer, and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce, bring it back to a boil, and adjust the heat to the slowest possible simmer. Simmer until the sauce is thickened and the meatballs are deeply infused with its flavor, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. They can be made ahead: cool, cover, and refrigerate them for up to 4 days. Reheat them gently over medium low heat. Serve from a chafing dish or slow-cooker set to “keep warm.”