As we round the corner past Halloween and into November, we’re entering yet another month of the coronavirus pandemic.
Each and every one of us has been affected, and some of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue.
Some of us cope by crocheting COVID-19 plushies and sending them to our friends. Some of us cope by making COVID meatballs with ground beef and mushrooms and posting them online.
I’m certainly not trying to make light of the pandemic that has claimed so many people, both at home and internationally. I am high risk due to asthma. The threat of becoming ill hangs over my head, and it is very real to me.
But sometimes you just have to give in to your weirder impulses.
What prompted this was an unexpected trip to the emergency room one night when I had a severe migraine that wouldn’t go away. Due to a current health issue, the emergency room docs wanted to monitor me overnight, so once they gave me pain killers I snuggled up to my hospital bed pillow and tried to get some sleep.
It wasn’t happening.
Every hour or so when someone came in to “check my vitals” I’d hear happy noises as various nurses and techs cooed with delight at the COVID plushie my friend Robin had sent me a few days before. It took me a while to realize what was happening until the doctor came in and said loudly, “Oh, that’s the COVID ball!”
A few days later, after I had returned home, I decided I needed to find my own pandemic escape. I was going to make those meatballs.
What many online have been doing is making regular meatballs and then peppering them with enoki mushrooms, the little white mushrooms with small caps and long stipes. For months I couldn’t find these guys. After complaining to my friends a few suggested I try my local Asian market.
But maybe not. The first batch I tried to make wouldn’t hold the mushrooms. The stipes were too delicate to jam into the ground beef and I ended up with a mess of teeny tiny mushrooms all over my cutting board.
A few days later I tried it again with beech mushrooms. These are also small, but their stipes are thicker and not as delicate.
I made the meatballs again, but this time instead of trying to stab the mushrooms into the meat, I used a chopstick to make a little hole first. I was able to slide the stipe in and squeeze the meat around each mushroom. I was a little worried that the proportions would be weird since the beech mushrooms were so much larger than the enoki, but in the end I think they worked out well.
I ended up serving these with spaghetti and sauce, but no matter how you pair them, they will steal the show and take your breath away.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 cup crispy onions, crushed
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
- Beech mushrooms as needed
Directions: In large mixing bowl add all ingredients except mushrooms. Mix until combined, then divide mixture into quarters, then each quarter into half, and half again. You should have 16 equal portions. Form these into balls. Set aside.
Separate beech mushrooms from each other and trim stems.
Take meatball in one hand and use a chopstick to make a hole. Place stem of mushroom inside, then squeeze meatball to hold mushroom in place. Repeat until 5 or 6 mushrooms are sticking out of meatball. Set aside and do the same for remaining meatballs.
Heat frying pan to medium, then cook meatballs until well done. Note: Careful when turning them as sometimes the mushrooms want to fall out.
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