Wednesday, January 27, 2010

CSA week seven - Canistel meatballs

Back in this post, where I made a meatloaf using overcooked carrots and turnips, I wondered how a meatloaf using canistel might work. The texture of the wad of mushed-up overcooked root vegetables was pretty similar to the texture of roasted canistel so I suspected that that aspect would work, but what about the flavor? In the comments, Russell expressed skepticism, but also mentioned trying pumpkin meatloaf.

It was a good comparison. Roasting canistel brings out its nutty pumpkiny flavor elements, leaving a mild sweetness and, at least this time, a slight bitter aftertaste, probably from the fruit being a little under-ripe--but just a little--they were squishy-ripe, not gooshy ripe.

There are actually a fair number of pumpkin meatloaf recipes out there so I was fairly confident the canistel would work. But no point in wasting a lot of food unnecessarily; best to start the experiment with a small batch of meatballs and go from there.

I roasted two canistels, sprayed with olive oil and lightly salted, at 350 degrees for a half hour, but I decided to only use one for this recipe.

I ran that canistel through the food processor, skin and all, to reduce it to a paste. To it I added:
1/3 pound ground pork
1/3 pound ground beef
1/2 small onion
1/4 green pepper
1/2 stalk celery, all three very finely chopped
1 handful breadcrumbs, and
1 sizable dose of Milwaukee Ave. Steak Seasoning from Spice House

I mixed that all together and rolled out balls about 1 1/2-inches across which I shallow fried for 6 minutes with a flip half way through. I had my usual trouble getting the temperature right, but a thick crust helped the meatballs hold together so even the slightly overcooked ones had their virtues.

They turned out really pretty well. Texturally, the canistel holds the meatballs together, but not quite as well as I would have liked. I should have cut a few minutes off the roasting to leave them a little moister. Or added an egg or maybe replaced the spices with chipotle peppers.

Flavorwise, the mild sweetness of the canistel balances with the smokey pepperiness of the spice mix similarly to how barbecue sauces do. The pumpkiny flavor of the canistel pairs well with the meat and the smoke. It worked; I ate up the whole batch without hesitation. So, if you don't know what to do with your canistels or haven't liked the sweet preparations you've tried, roast them and substitute them into pumpkin recipes. It'll probably work.


LaDivaCucina said...

So you finally did it! Yes, the egg would help to bind and perhaps it was the skin that you left on that added to the bitter taste? I've eaten acorn squash skins and sometimes they are slightly bitter. It is hard to get the skins off but I woulds suggest scraping out the flesh with a spoon after roasting.

Canistel is such an unusual fruit and the flavor is so distinctive, do you think that putting into a meatloaf or meatball is a waste?

billjac said...

I don't think I'd buy canistels specifically for use in an application like this, but if you've got a pile starting to rot on the counter, why not try it? The distinctive flavor isn't shown to its best advantage, but it does come through and contribute to the dish. It might be mistaken for sweet potato or pumpkin, but it's there.

As for scraping out the canistels, after roasting the skin, especially the crispy browned bits, is the best part. Anyway, the flesh and skin bond together so scraping isn't really an option. And it's not like I could taste the bitterness in the final product anyway.

LaDivaCucina said...

hmmmm...interesting about the skin. I wonder if you could roast them and then just eat them with butter like an acorn squash? or put a bit of cinnamon and marscapone?

The problem for me in getting these tropical fruits is that they don't really lend themselves to eating on their own or without baking into something. I really DON'T need to be baking anything sweet right now so prefer to use them in a savory way.

billjac said...

In my first post about roasting canistels I had them with just a dab of avocado mayonaise and quite liked them. Just butter wouldn't be bad either. You wouldn't go far wrong treating them like a baked sweet potato and serving them with whatever toppings you like with those.

Karen said...

Not quite a "savory" but putting forward a different idea - both Canistel and Black Sapote make quite decent smoothies - e.g. with yogurt for the Canistel and chocolate milk & banana for the Black Sapote. Also I found the Canistel worked very well in a savory muffin recipe with miso which I found here:
(sorry - I don't know how to do that slick thing that hides the url). The little muffins were good with soup for lunch, even kids ate 'em up.

Sandrine said...

or maybe a souffle...that would work too I guess.

billjac said...

I could see a sweet canistel souffle using the fruit raw.

For roasted cansitel, maybe a stir fry. Pumpkin stir fried with eggs is, a quick search reveals, a southern Thai thing. Substitute the canistel in there and you might have something. I've got a leftover roasted canistel in the refrigerator. I might just try that tonight.

Amy said...

I went the smoothie route with a black sapote recently, and in lieu of the banana suggested put frozen strawberries. Wow!

I am also trying to figure out what I want to do with a past-its-prime canistel that I had to throw in the freezer before I recently went out of town. As unoriginal as it is, the smoothie option may win out there, too - though this discussion is giving me some other options to work with. Thanks!

billjac said...

I think canistel might work just as well as the black sapote did in the meringue cookie recipe I made this weekend. Should be pretty easy to make and the egg whites should mellow out the cloying sweetness of the canistel nicely. You might consider that too.

Amy said...

I'll have to give that some though and see if I can find some time to give it a test run this weekend. If I do, I'll let you know. Thanks again!