Waikiki meatballs are a staple in our house. I grew up with my mom always making them and every time it felt like a treat. Now what feels like a treat is the fact that Dan’s gotten really good at making them. I do most of the cooking in our house but when it comes to these meatballs (ok and tuna melts) Dan has them down.
He’s mastered his meatball rolling technique.
Look at how perfectly neat and uniform they are. I like to take credit for that. I believe it’s due to my constructive criticism. “Those are too big!”, “that’s one’s too small”, “my mom would say they’re not going to cook evenly”. He loves me.
The recipe comes from an old Betty Crocker book but over the years I’ve modified it a little bit to suit my liking. The recipe below is the original but I’ve added my changes after.
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2/3 cup crushed saltine cracker crumbs
1/3 cup minced onion
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks – drained, with juice reserved
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, cracker crumbs, onion, egg, milk, ginger and salt. Shape mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls into meatballs.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place meatballs in skillet and cook until evenly brown, and meat is no longer pink. Drain excess fat.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, brown sugar, reserved pineapple juice, vinegar and soy sauce. Mix until smooth, then pour into the skillet with meatballs. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils, about 5 minutes. Stir in the green pepper and pineapple chunks. Heat through.
When I use ground beef I always go lean 93%. I don’t know, it just makes me feel healthier. I’ve also used ground turkey before and I like that as well. As far as the cracker crumbs, it doesn’t have to be saltines. I’ve used ritz and other types of crackers. I’ve also used rice chex cereal when I didn’t have any crackers and it takes just as good. I’m sure bread crumbs would work just fine too. I don’t like to measure how much onion I’m using so I’ve always just gone with 1/2 white onion and that seems to work well. As for bell peppers, I’m not a big fan of green so I’ll either use one whole red, yellow, or orange one. I hate browning the meatballs so instead of cooking them in a skillet, I put them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes and while they’re in the oven I make the sauce. I also don’t mix the sauce ingredients in a separate bowl. I just place and mix the cornstarch, brown sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice and vinegar in the skillet at the same time. I’m all about eliminating steps whenever possible.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. It’s one of my favorite dishes.