Cuban Meatballs

I think there is going to be a meatball renaissance. Call it a hunch. In fact, we’re going to launch the campaign now. Let’s #MakeMeatballsGreatAgain.

A lot of people hear the word “meatball” and instantly feel like yawning. Not me. My first thought is “What kind of meatballs?” I have seen how hamburgers have become the latest craze for creativity. What is a meatball but a ground up burger, bun and all? Why shouldn’t it be as trendy as its cousin?


For the past 10 days or so, we have been in the middle of a very typical Iowa July weather pattern … HOT and HUMID! Today is one of those days that allows me to make it through another Iowa summer. It’s 4:00 in the afternoon,the temperature has dropped to the high 70’s, and the breeze is light. I know most people dread winter in Iowa but it’s the summer humidity that gives me Seasonal Affective Disorder.

And yet, when I want to complain about the heat and humidity, I only have to think about my relatives in Miami, and I could just kiss my air conditioner. Whenever I start thinking about them, I also start craving Cuban food. I have become a big fan of the Cuban Sandwich. Ham, pork, swiss cheese, mustard, and dill pickles all layered between slices of Cuban bread. It’s not easy to find Cuban bread here in Iowa, so I usually end up using a French or Italian loaf. I was curious though … what makes Cuban bread, Cuban?

Wikipedia says “Cuban bread is a fairly simple white bread, similar to French bread and Italian bread, but has a slightly different baking method and ingredient list (in particular, it generally includes a small amount of fat in the form of lard or vegetable shortening); it is usually made in long, baguette-like loaves.”

Did you catch that? LARD!

It makes everything better!

As much as I love and respect lard, there is a time and a place for its use. This is not the time or venue. This is the time for meatballs. As I’ve mentioned before, what is a meatball but a ground-up sandwich? Therefore, I give you …

Cuban Meatballs

1 1/2 pounds ham loaf (2/3 ground ham, 1/3 ground pork)
1 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground pork sausage
2 cups bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
4-6 tablespoons dill relish
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
4 tablespoons yellow mustard
Olive Oil
Coarse Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine all ingredients, except oil and pepper, in a large bowl by hand. Roll mixture into balls about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Place on baking sheets. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn meatballs over, return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. 

Makes about 60 meatballs.

These would be great with a side of black beans, sour-cream and dill cucumber slices, sweet corn, and/or sliced fresh tomatoes. I plan to eat the leftovers (as pictured) as an appetizer with a side of mojito!

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Anita Hinkeldey McVey

From the farm in Alta ... to college in Ames ... to the suburbs of Des Moines in Waukee ... I am an Iowa girl through and through. I married the cute, but quiet, guy who made me laugh out loud in Statistics class and we have two awesome, but terribly sarcastic, boys. In 1999, I quit my research job to be home with those active boys. Staying home allowed me to spend more time preparing meals, trying new recipes and striving to serve healthier options for my family. Now that my boys are men ... well, "adults" anyway ... and my husband still appreciates what I accomplish at home, I have time to explore my creative side and knock "writing a blog" off my bucket list. I love trying new things, traveling, gardening, reading and clean countertops. I love baseball (watching, not playing) and concession stands. Choosing a favorite food is impossible but if I was forced to pick just one, it would be pie! I thank God that He has led me to this place. Here's to a new adventure and hopes that others will be able to use what I post to discover the benefits of family meals and living a picnic life.

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