Previously, the most adventurous food I’d ever eaten was whole chicken feet. This weekend I added a new one to the list when I had a taco lengua, or a beef tongue taco, oh my. Upon close inspection the taste buds were visible on many of the rectangular chunks of meat. It was unadorned except for a few rainbow-shaped onions lounging in a salty marinade spooned on top. The meat was less chewy than I expected, almost like hard jello, and otherwise pretty bland wrapped in two doubled over, plain flour tortillas. On the other hand, these Greek yogurt meatballs I made were a decidedly more delicious though sadly, less adventurous dish.
Adding a new item to my “life adventure list” got me thinking about what defines an adventure. The answer is elementary, my dear Watson. Risk. There is no adventure to be had if there is no risk involved. Most people will tell you to analyze risk in terms of gains versus losses but try thinking about it this way: once you’ve been presented with a risk, your life is already changed. Whether it’s the chance to try a tongue taco, quit your job, move your bed to the opposite wall, or run away and join the circus, every risk leaves its mark. Even if you choose not to take a risk (which absolutely is the correct choice in some situations) you are already changed merely by being presented with the option. Another fragment of a fingerprint is etched into the marble slab of your soul with every risk offered to you. Your decision isn’t if you want to change but rather how you want to change. You are already the person who has been issued the opportunity of risk so you only need to decide if you want to be the person who declines the invitation or the one who embraces adventure. If you’ve never adventured before, start by trying this recipe, you’ll always find delightful chances for risk in the kitchen!
Start by slapping the meat into a medium bowl and using a microzester, or the fine side of a box grater, add shredded garlic and onion on top of meat. Set aside.
Use one half cup of oats either whole or whirled in the processor to a fine breadcrumb consistency.
In addition to a creamy one third cup of Greek yogurt (or sour cream).
In a small bowl, whisk together the oats and the wet ingredients: yogurt, egg, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce.
Drop wet mixture and spices on meat. I used two tablespoons of a Sicilian spice mix containing fennel, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, basil, roasted garlic, sea salt, carrots, and sesame. Use any of those flavors currently on hand or make a risqué blend of your personal favorites.
Gently combine all ingredients by using your hand like a play-doh spaghetti factory toy. Let the ingredients gently squish against themselves as they slide through your fingers.
Meatballs are great for easy additions to a variety of meals. I use my cookie scoop for mini meatballs that are about tablespoon sized. Lay meatballs on a lined baking sheet and place in freezer for a few hours until frozen solid then transfer to a freezer-safe storage container or ziploc bag.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees with cast iron skillet inside. Once oven is heated, add half of tomato sauce to skillet and plop meatballs directly into sauce. No need to thaw meatballs if using them frozen.
I found this bottle of Italian-made tomato sauce hiding in the back of the cupboard but use whatever tomato or spaghetti sauce your pantry hands over. Pour the rest of your sauce-of-choice over the meatballs and bake until internal temp is 165 degrees, about twenty minutes if meatballs are fresh, thirty minutes if frozen.
Below is your printable recipe with nutrition information included.
- 12 oz ground beef
- ⅓ cup Greek yogurt
- ½ cup oats, ground
- 4 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 small onion, grated
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons Sicilian mix
- 1 cup tomato sauce, divided in half
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees with cast iron skillet inside.
- Add ground beef to medium bowl. Zest garlic and onion directly on top of meat and set aside.
- In small bowl, whisk together yogurt, ground oats, egg, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce until well combined.
- Pour liquid mixture onto meat and work gently with hands until meat is coated. Add 2 tablespoons of spices and mix again with hands until just combined.
- Remove skillet from oven, add ½ cup of tomato sauce and place meatballs in pan with space between. Once all meatballs are in pan, pour remaining sauce on top. Bake for 20 min or until no longer pink in center.
One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.
-Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums