Thursday, 2 August 2012

The cheese obsession, part 2

My cheese obsession is showing no signs of wearing off. I was totally blown away with my first ever attempt at making cheese and I immediately decided I want to try to use goat's milk as well. So I did. I was also curious to see how the cheese would behave when cooked, so I decided to make meat balls stuffed with cheese. The original plan was to add chives and garlic to the cheese for seasoning. However, I couldn't get chives when I went to do my grocery shopping, and was too lazy to walk to the next grocery store, so I decided to use spring onions and garlic instead. 

I have been trying to find something sensible I could use to replace bread crumbs which seem to be ubiquitous in all recipes for anything-balls or anything-patties and so many other places. Well, I finally found it. And, like in this recipe where I used it to replace rice in the brown rice pie crust, it's quinoa to the rescue. I think it's the perfect replacement for bread crumbs. Higher in protein, lower in carb. And it tastes much better!

I'm so proud of this recipe, it's one that I'm going to claim I created pretty much from scratch. I did get some inspiration for the seasoning of the mince meat from the Salisbury steaks from One Perfect Bite, the original recipe for the cheese is from Homesick Texan and I got some inspiration for the marinara sauce here. And I bet you will say there surely are recipes for goat's cheese stuffed meatballs somewhere out there in the wide world of the web. I'm sure there is. But after a bit of googling, I still could not find one with home made, fresh, lovely and creamy goat's milk cheese. So I will claim this as the InvisiblePinkMeatball recipe. I'm sure even the Flying Spaghetti Monster would approve!
InvisiblePinkMeatBalls, aka Meatballs stuffed with home made garlic and spring onion goat's milk cheese (makes 6 big meatballs):

For the goat milk cheese (you only need half of this recipe for the meatballs, enjoy the rest with some good fresh bread and a splash of olive oil):
2 l whole goat's milk
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (I used malt vinegar) or 1/2 cup lemon juice
1 large clove of garlic
3 spring onions
2 tsp salt

For the mince:
300g lean beef mince
50 g (dry weight) quinoa, cooked according to instructions with 1/6 veggie stock cube
1/2 egg
2 cloves of garlic
2 spring onions
3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Rendang chilli paste
1 tsp ground black pepper

For the marinara sauce:
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp rapeseed, olive or coconut oil
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
5 tbsp parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp black pepper
pinch of sugar

The howto:
The instructions on how to prepare the cheese are in my previous post here. To recap very shortly: Gently heat the milk to 85 degrees C (right before it begins to boil for those of you who don't have a thermometer). Add the vinegar or lemon juice, and gently let the milk cook for another few minutes. It will curdle (start to look lumpy and disgusting). Strain the curds in a colander lined with muslin or cheese cloth. After letting the curds drain for a few minutes, mix in finely chopped garlic, onions and salt (if doing this by hand, I suggest you wear rubber gloves as the mixture is hot). Make a ball out of the cheese, and tie the muslin tightly, hang somewhere to drain for at least a few hours, possibly over night. 

When cheese is done, preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Mix together all of the ingredients for the mince in a bowl. Take half of the cheese and make six balls out of it. The rest can be stored in the fridge for up to a few days (for as long as the milk you used would be good).  Divide the mince batter into six parts. Wrap the cheese balls in mince, making sure to get an even coverage with no parts of the cheese visible through gaps in the minced meat dough. Bake the meatballs in the oven for 25 minutes. 
While the meatballs are cooking in the oven, prepare the tomato sauce. Chop the garlic and onions. Sauté the onions in the olive oil for a few minutes, add the garlic and sauté for another few minutes. Add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients, and bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes or so. At this point you can use a handheld mixer to puree the tomato sauce if you want to.Transfer the meatballs into the tomato sauce, and let cook for 10 minutes. Serve with pasta or mock pasta made from courgette.

The verdict:
This is definitely one of those moments when I wish there was a way to transmit scents over the Interwebs. The mince mixed with all that seasoning just smelled heavenly. And it really is my best mince meat dough ever. It comes with a small warning though, it does not stay together quite as well as ordinary mince with bread crumbs. But I still think substituting bread with quinoa is brilliant, if you just remember to be very gentle when moving the meatballs around. And cooking them in the oven until almost ready is quite essential for this recipe, as they are rather big, so I think cooking them in the marinara sauce from the start could take quite a while. Although, if you happen to have a Crockpot, I think cooking them in there should work very well.

And then the goat's milk cheese. It ended up being a bit different from the cow's milk cheese I prepared with exactly the same method. I don't know if this is due to differences in the proteins of goat's milk versus cow's milk, or if it's because I used cider vinegar the first time and malt vinegar the second. The goat's cheese resulted in softer, more velvety curds, and the cheese stayed creamier through the whole process (despite being drained for a longer time). I think this might be because the goat's milk is a tad higher in fat (it says "under 4% fat" whereas the cow's milk is 3.6%). Also, the goat's milk was only lightly homogenised, not sure if that makes a difference as well.

All in all, this turned out to be a very successful combination which I'm very proud of. Next time I might spice up the goat's cheese even more, with a tad more garlic and possibly a bit chilli as well to give it a bit of a kick. 

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