By Scott Leysath
Behold the meatball, a flavorful blend of ground meat and seasonings that can vary in taste from Italian to southwestern to southern barbecue. Meatballs are a great way to make use of game meats like duck and goose breast fillets. And while people don't usually think of waterfowl when it comes to meatballs, they taste as good—or better—than those made with beef, pork, or lamb.
I experimented with a variety of ingredients to ensure that the cooked meatballs would hold together. Traditionally, meatball recipes call for eggs as a binder, but I discovered that they hold together better when the ground meat mixture is dusted with seasoned flour. The flour makes all the other ingredients adhere to the meat and reduces the amount of breadcrumbs required.
Use cooked meatballs in pasta, on sandwiches, or as an appetizer. After you've tried a batch of these Italian-style meatballs, you may wish to create your own signature blends. Mix in some crumbled blue cheese, roasted garlic, and rosemary or spice things up with diced jalapeño peppers, cilantro, and chili powder. Just make sure to add enough ground beef to provide some fat to this otherwise lean mixture, or your meatballs will be too dry when they come out of the oven.
Duck or Goose Italian Meatballs
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: Less than 15 minutes
- 1 1/4 cup ground skinless duck or goose breast fillets
- 3/4 cup ground beef (15–25 percent fat)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup canned diced tomato, drained
- 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
1. To prepare ground duck or goose, cut skinless breast fillets into small pieces and pulse in a food processor until just chopped. A few pulses should do the trick.
2. In a large bowl, combine ground duck or goose with ground beef. Combine flour with next four ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over meat. Work flour and seasonings into meat with your hands. Add balsamic vinegar, tomato, and onion and incorporate into meat mixture. Add breadcrumbs, a little at a time, while mixing.
3. After breadcrumbs have been blended into the meat, form some of the mixture into a ball, about the size of a golf ball. Make sure that the mixture holds together when handled. Meatballs should be moist, yet firm. If the meatballs fall apart easily, mix in a tablespoon or two of additional flour to help them hold together.
4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs and brown them evenly on all sides.