Fall Ball

September 26th, 2011 · 16 Comments · Pork and Beef

It’s not that I’m not an autumn girl. I do love how the backyard Japanese maple turns canary yellow and my kitchen window frames it like a painting. I love the crisp air thing. And even though I complain about the weekend-eating game schedule to anyone who will listen, I love the return to soccer. Not a whole lot thrills me more than watching pony-tailed girls sprinting down a field in uniforms.

It’s more that, at heart, I’m a summer girl. And so for me, fall means the end of summer. The end of evening swims, sundresses and flip-flops, lazy nights drinking Dark & Stormies by the grill, tomato sandwiches. The end of coming home from work and feeling like there are still hours and hours left in the day to actually see the kids, make a nice healthy dinner, and in general, have a life.

Not Andy, though. He practically sprints to the calendar on the day he gets to flip the page from August to September. Back when we were in Brooklyn, he used to make a point of cranking up the volume when he sat down to his first football game of the season. (I always wanted to answer “No” when Hank Williams Jr. screamed “Are you ready for some footbaaalll?”) For Andy, if he can get through the first week back after Labor Day, September marks the beginning of a beautiful stretch of bourbon, baseball playoffs, and, of course, braising. I think it was in the middle of this past July — you know the month where New York had 15 straight days of 90-degree days — when he started talking about braising meatballs. When the weather turns, he’d say, I’m going to make pork and sage meatballs. Through August, his vision gained momentum, as though thinking about how to make them (lemon zest! he said driving north on the Saw Mill River Parkway one day) might will the weather into dropping 30 degrees, and he could be back where he belonged: Calling the lines of a soccer game in the late-afternoon autumn light; walking around in fleece; being surrounded by Cortlands and Honeycrisps at the farmer’s market. The market was where he had the final epiphany about his meatball magnum opus. (Apple-cider braised pork meatballs!) And last night when we finally ate them, even a summer girl like me had to admit he was onto something.

Pork Meatballs Braised in Wine and Cider

Using your hands, mix together all the following ingredients and form into golf-ball size meatballs.

1 1/4 pounds ground pork
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 eggs
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs

Set a medium saucepan or Dutch Oven over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Brown meatballs on all sides (in batches if necessary) and remove to a plate. They do not have to be cooked through.

Add 1 large shallot (chopped) to the pot and cook 1 minute. Add 2/3 cup white wine, 1/2 cup apple cider, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, a little salt, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, add meatballs back to the pot. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.

Remove balls from pot, whisk 1 tablespoon heavy cream into the braising liquid. Serve meatballs with sauce spooned on top.

We served them with “confetti” brussels sprouts.

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16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag // Sep 26, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I with ya Jenny, I’m a summer girl as well (what can you expect from someone born/raised in Hawaii??), whereas my husband practically does handstands of happiness at the prospect of Fall. These meatballs look divine and my husband’s favorite veggie is The Brussels Sprout. I just showed this to him and he said “THAT SOUNDS LIKE DINNER.” :)

  • 2 Caitlin // Sep 26, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I went through a pretty severe cooking hiatus this summer. The small apartment kitchen felt like a sauna at all times and with no access to an outdoor grill, there were a lot of no cook meals for a few months there. This looks like the perfect way to re-introduce myself to the stove.

  • 3 Courtney // Sep 26, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I just wrote about this on my blog :) I am fall CRAZY. It’s actually a bit out of control. I have been a braising and cooking machine. Pumpkin muffins…brown bag apple pie (easiest and best apple pie EVER – bonus, you get to bake it IN a Trader Joes bag!)…..soups/chilis/braised pork, oh my!

    These meatballs sound right up my husbands alley. I love to flavor of sage! And what a fun way to serve brussel sprouts.

  • 4 emily // Sep 26, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I am making these this weekend. I hate the shorter days, but i love the idea of pork and sage. Bring on the fall!

  • 5 Trista // Sep 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Now see, I -am- a fall girl, and I think this is going on my meal plan for the next week. :)

  • 6 theresa // Sep 27, 2011 at 1:46 am

    i made these tonight! delicious. Planning to have the leftovers for breakfast !

  • 7 mommylisa // Sep 27, 2011 at 10:17 am

    For us its best if we BAKE meatballs. So much easier! ;)

  • 8 Sarah // Sep 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    To Andy I say, “You done it Pollock. You cracked it wide open!”
    These meatballs sound like heaven, but I’m also drooling over the brussel spouts in the pan. Sunday dinner is now set. Thank you.

  • 9 AnneL // Sep 27, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Perfect – we are in a meat CSA and I always feel just a little at a loss about what to do with the packages of ground pork.

  • 10 Kendra // Sep 28, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I’m with Andy. I come ALIVE in fall. Can’t wait to try these (though I’ll avoid the pork tonight during Rosh Hashanah…)

  • 11 Jacquie | After Words // Sep 28, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    These are resting on my stove right now. Delicious!

  • 12 Kris // Nov 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I just made these, and because it’s what I had on hand and to make it EXTRA fall-y, I subbed the wine & cider for a bottle of pumpkin ale. (Added a bit of honey since I figure the cider would have added more sweetness.) Delicious!

  • 13 ScheherazadeU // Jan 27, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    We had this for dinner tonight. It was fantastic!

  • 14 Jennifer // Feb 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Made these over the weekend for the rainy cold Saturday that we had. Served them over noodles. They were wonderful!

  • 15 Fran Copa // Sep 25, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    If I want a good use for my Farmer’s Market apple cider, I’ll DRINK it. That said, this recipe might warrant buying some EXTRA.

  • 16 Erin Potter // Oct 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Just made this tonight-amazing! The sage and lemon zest make all the difference!

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