Reader, I know what you’re saying.  “Damn it, I defrosted too much meatball meat!”

You too?

“Fiddlesticks” you say, (fiddlesticks is the new dag’ nab it), “Spaghetti and meatballs are so played out, and I don’t have bread for a sandwich. What to do?”

Then after a few moments of deep contemplation, you ask yourself, “Well, what would happen if I made the meatballs, stuffed them with cheese, beer battered them, and deep fried them?”

Oh… let’s find out!

Beer-Battered Deep-Fried Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs

(I know, right?)

So I made meatballs as I normally would…

And I stuffed them with cheese.  What kind?  As long as it is a melting cheese it doesn’t matter (ix-nay on the ricotta, queso fresco, etc.), but if I were, ahem, planning this meal, *shrug*, then I would have had provolone on hand.  As it is, I had, “Quesadilla Cheese”, whatever that is. It was on sale. Why do people keep naming cheese after their functions? Don’t fence me in, cheese manufacturers.  I will defy you.  Just watch.

Just close the meat around the hunk o' cheese

I put a lil’ chunk of “quesadilla cheese” in each meatball before closing it up.  I tried beer battering and frying these as is.  No go.  Meat was way undercooked and cheese wasn’t melty.  But if you sear them off in a pan first,

Don't crowd 'em or you'll steam 'em and steam will never result in happy brown crust.

Said crust

then beer batter them –

Beer Batter

1 cup flour
1 cup beer, preferably dark
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper

Heat vegetable oil to 325.  Just enough oil to submerge the meatballs.

Mix together the flour, salt, and pepper.  Add beer.  Whisk together until smooth.  Batter should be like middling thick pancake batter.  Coat meatballs in batter and fry them until brown and crispy.

Serve them with an acidic marinara sauce to cut the richness…

Good god.  It’s so wrong, so deliciously, sinfully, stupidly, calorically wrong, it couldn’t be more satisfying. If I were improving these, I would make the balls smaller and the cheese more of a component, but I am still swooning just remembering them.

So you sit back, relishing your excess and think, “I need something sweet but what could top that?”

Caramel Coated Honey Crisp Apples with Salted Peanuts?

Right.  Let’s get on that.

Buy apples.

I got my Honey Crisp apple from Seedling at the Lincoln Square Farmers’ Market. Any crunchy apple will do, but Honey Crisp are my favorite.

Then I searched the interwebs for a dipping caramel recipe that didn’t use corn syrup.  There weren’t many.  I slightly modified this one from Halloween Howl –

Caramel for Dipping Apples
yield 3 very large, 6 medium, or 10 small apples

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
6 Tbsp half and half
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Mix the brown sugar and milk in a pot until dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, swirling the pan constantly, until it reaches the soft ball stage (240F or 115C). Remove from heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla and dip your apples.

One of my chef instructors, Pierre Polin, told me that in his first baking kitchen he asked a chef for a thermometer and the chef said, “Do you have fingers?”, to which Pierre replied, “Of course.” The chef said, “Then you don’t need a thermometer.”

So, if you’re adventurous, get a glass of ice water.  Dip your fingers in, dip them in the boiling sugar super quick and return them immediately to the ice water.  If the sugar forms a ball when you roll it in your fingers, it’s done.  Yes, this is how I did it.  It’s hard to get thermometer reading in a shallow pan.  It’s ok if  you don’t want to.  No one’s judging you.  Except that guy in the baking kitchen.

I got the sugar temp right, but sadly I don’t always think things through.  I said to myself, “Why bother skewering that sucker with a stick when I can just roll it around?  I don’t mind getting messy”.  It’s less about messy eating than it is about rolling an object around in hot caramel and then in peanuts easily.

I made it work, but next time, I’ll get a stick.  This needs to be done while it’s hot or the caramel starts to harden to the point where it won’t adhere.

I used salted peanuts because I figured salted caramel is the big thing right now so…

Paid off.  Best caramel apple I ever had.

Happy Almost October!


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