Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub Guinness Meatballs

This meatball dish highlights the cultural crossroads of Ireland by pairing a traditional Italian favorite with a creamy stout sauce.

Makes about forty 1 1/2-inch meatballs; 1 2/3 cups cream sauce

Ingredients

Meatballs:
2 pounds ground free-range beef
1/4 cup sweet onions, finely diced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced or pressed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh basil, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
1/2 cup panko (see note)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 ounces heavy whipping cream
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 eggs

Kells Guinness Cream Sauce:
14 ounces (13/4 cups) beef broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup Guinness draught stout
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced or pressed
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature

Note: Panko are coarse, crunchy Japanese bread crumbs, found at Asian food stores.

Method

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except eggs.
  3. Crack eggs in separate bowl and add to meat mixture. Blend mixture by hand until just incorporated. Shape meat mixture into balls, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place meatballs on 2 large sheet pans. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of meatballs reads 160 degrees F. Shake each pan occasionally to allow meat to brown on all sides. Remove pans from oven.
  4. Pour Kells Guinness Cream Sauce (recipe follows) over meatballs and let steep until ready to serve. Meatballs and sauce can be held in a 160 degrees oven or crock pot until ready to serve. When ready to serve, arrange meatballs on individual serving plates around mounded champ. Drizzle extra cream sauce atop and around meatballs.
  5. In a small bowl, mix 2 to 3 ounces (4 to 6 tablespoons) of room-temperature beef broth with cornstarch. Set aside.
  6. Combine remaining broth and ingredients, except heavy cream, in heavy-gauge saucepot and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook for 15 minutes on low and reduce to a low simmer.
  7. Add heavy cream. When cream is blended, slowly drizzle in cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until mixture is incorporated. Continue to whisk until sauce returns to a low simmer, about 5 to 10 minutes. Thickness and taste may be adjusted by adding slightly more broth or cream.

Source: Chef Ethan Light, Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub, Portland, Oregon