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.