It was one of those what-to-do-with-ground-beef days. I almost, in desperation, fell back on grilled burgers, even though it was only 54° outside, then wondered if I could do something different with meatballs—and I mean different from all the meatball recipes on this site (which is 5). I still used the grill, after I put on a flannel shirt, and decided to use a combination of spices that I haven’t used with beef before. The only method I could figure out for grilling meatballs, was to put them on skewers, although I’m sure if they are big enough not to fall through the grate you could turn them individually—that sounds like too much work.
We ate them on flatbread with a sour cream-lemon-chive sauce.
Spicy Skewered Meatballs
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Optional: 2-4 tablespoons milk or other liquid if the mixture is dry
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
1 tablespoon parsley paste (a timesaver)
1 tablespoon grated or minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Mix all ingredients together with hands. You’re trying to achieve a mixture that will hold its shape, so you don’t want it to be too soft or moist.
- Divide mixture into 16 portions and roll into balls.
- Carefully slide meatballs onto skewers then place on a large tray. You could refrigerate them at this point until ready to cook.
- Grill over direct heat, turning to brown on all sides, closing the lid after each turn. Even with flat skewers, the meatballs will turn on the skewers, but it’s still pretty easy to turn the whole skewer, keeping your tongs close by. They cook pretty quickly, in about 15 minutes, but you can use a thermometer to test for doneness.
- Remove from skewers and serve in flatbread with a sour cream or yogurt sauce.
This is something you could make with a variety of meats and spices. I found the meatballs to be moist and tender, and a nice change from burgers.
So one way not to cook so many hamburgers on the grill is to smush all the ground beef into a meatloaf, right?
There is a lot of inspiration on the web for wrapping rolls of meat in bacon and then slow-cooking or smoking the roll on the grill. I get a lot of that inspiration from Tony Meets Meat (obviously contains meat recipes!), although I didn’t really want to stuff the meatloaf, and stuffing seems to be a popular meme for meat rolls on the web. Usually the rolls are stuffed with more meat, but don’t think turducken. There are also some good ideas for grilling a meatloaf without a stuffing, most of them, as well as the aforementioned meat rolls, using a woven mat of bacon to hold it all together. The bacon weave is a great idea, not just for the flavor but for how it keeps the meat inside basted throughout a long cooking.
I used the snake charcoal method and cooked the loaf for 3 hours at about 250°-300°. The internal temperature at the end was about 177° and it was not overdone. The meatloaf was terrifically juicy throughout and the bacon had a moist, chewy texture. I put the loaf on a narrow strip of foil, which doubled as a lifter, so the bacon on the bottom was not browned, but it melted in your mouth. It was another Wow! meal. I have made bacon-wrapped meatloaves in the oven many times, but the bacon dries out too much. Not so on the grill.
Grilled, Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf
Set up grill for indirect cooking—this could be a half and half setup or the snake method. Either way, you want to be able to keep the heat at medium to medium low for a long time. If you use the half and half method, don’t put your hood thermometer over the coals.
3 lbs 80% lean ground chuck
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4-1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup celery with leaves, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
22 oz package thick-sliced bacon
- Mix first 11 ingredients by hand in large bowl, adding enough evaporated milk to achieve a moist mix that will hold together in a loaf shape.
- Weave your slices of bacon into a square or rectangular mat as long as you want the loaf to be. As you can see in posts all over the web, it helps to make this on parchment paper or plastic wrap, which will help you roll it up. I kept out about three slices of bacon, because my 3 pound loaf was large in diameter, too large for one slice of bacon to go around. I laid the extra slices lengthwise across the loaf, and then brought the woven mat up the sides and slightly over those strips. The roll was then rolled over so the extra strips and ends were on the bottom. I kept the roll wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge until the grill was ready. Here is a good image of the bacon weave: https://tonymeetsmeat.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/2015-06-28-20-40-39.jpg
- You could place the loaf directly on the grill, but I put a narrow strip of foil under it, which worked as a lifter, making moving the loaf on and off the grill easy. It also meant I didn’t need to secure the bottom pieces and ends of the bacon with toothpicks.
- Grill over a drip pan (or one you improvise with foil, like I did) for about 3 hours at 250°-300° or until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Enjoy your 3 hours of doing nothing.