Monday, February 25, 2008

And the Oscar goes to … Beer & Barbecue Sauce Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs

Every year for the past seven or eight years, my sister and I (but mostly my sister) have been hosting an Oscar party for our friends … complete with food themed to the movies and actors up for awards. Among this year’s dishes: Away from Herb Dip and Julie Crispies, No Caprese for Old Men, Johnny Dipp with Helena Bonham Crackers, Prosciutto of the Caribbean, La Vie En Fromage, The Bourbon Ultimatum Bars, Elizabeth the Golden Aged Cheddar and English Pickle, There will be Blood Oranges, Into the Wild Mushroom Fricasee ... and yes, I know great liberties were taken with these titles. Even more fun are the movie posters my sis makes to go with them!

All around, the food was terrific, thanks to Jules, Trae and Robin up from Orange County, Sarah, Jenny, and Bette in from Seattle just in time to enjoy a rainy weekend, with Clive providing the token male presence. For my dish, I was assigned Michael Claypot ...

I found a few crock pot meatball recipes online (my clay pot is too small for feeding a group), started experimenting, and concocted this winner.

Beer & Barbecue Sauce Crock Pot Turkey Meatballs


- 2 lbs turkey
- 2 eggs
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 4 good dashes garlic salt
- 4 big dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1 bottle trader Joe’s All Natural Barbecue Sauce (18 oz)
- 1 cup Fat Tire beer


1) Toast the pine nuts in a pan and set aside.

2) Brown onions in olive oil.

3) Mix turkey, eggs, onions, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, and pine nuts.

4) Shape meatballs, approximately 1 inch round.

5) Brown meatballs in olive oil, but don’t cook completely.

6) Arrange meatballs in crockpot.

7) Pour barbecue sauce over meatballs.

8) Pour beer over meatballs.

9) Cook in your crock pot on low for 4-8 hours.

Serving size:
I wish I could tell you how many meatballs this made, but I didn’t count. I’m guessing about 50.

Ingredient note:
The turkey mixture seemed a little mushy when I browned the meatballs, though they held together in the end. Perhaps try 1 less egg, or add some breadcrumbs—not soft dusty crumbs, but crispy panko breadcrumbs.

More crock pot recipes:

- Crock Pot Beef Burgundy
- Pulled Pork

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Limoncello Season: My Favorite Time of Year

Here in L.A., it’s that time of year again … the tree out back in my driveway is bursting with lemons. That means one thing in this household: limoncello. I know that I first posted my limoncello recipe almost two years ago, but it’s among the top two items that bring people to this blog (the other being cha ca, or clay pot fish), and I wanted to make it easier on readers by publishing the recipe without all the blah, blah, blah back story and fussing around that went with making my first batch. So, here it is, nice and easy …

Limoncello, Phase One

- Choose 24 medium size lemons or 12 large lemons. When I say large, I mean huge. The ones from my tree are the size of grapefruit. Use organic lemons, since the alcohol is going to suck out every bit of oil (and pesticide, if it’s there) from the zest.

- Peel the zest from the lemons. Make sure not to get any pith, since it will make the liqueur bitter. I’ve heard that a microplane works well, but since I don’t have one, I used a serrated vegetable peeler.

- Put the skins in a jar and dump in two 750 ml bottles of 150 proof Everclear (see photo below). Leave in the jar in a cool, dark place for approximately three weeks. You’re ready to move on when the zest has turned white and the alcohol is yellow.

Limoncello, Phase Two

- Strain the zest from the alcohol. Squeeze any oil, if possible, from the zest and add to the alcohol.

- Mix the lemony alcohol with a simple syrup of 12 cups water and 5 cups sugar for a mix that won’t kill you, and 9 cups water and 4 ½ cups sugar for a mix that will merely burn your eyelashes off. Liquid should turn slightly cloudy.

- Put the jar back in its cool, dark place for three more weeks.

Limoncello, Phase Three

- Pour into bottles.

- Make labels.Tie a recipe for limoncello biscotti around the neck of the bottle, and you have the perfect spring gift for friends.

A note on alcohol:
You will find recipes that call for vodka instead of grain alcohol. Don't do it, unless you want to make a glorified lemondrop martini. I've tested this recipe various ways, and my friends have taste-tested those various batches, and the recipe that I have come up with here is considered the best, especially by all those who had their first sips while traveling in Italy.

(top photo by Julie Fay)