Meatballs with bell peppers and pineapple is a meal that is a true comfort food. The juicy, fresh pineapple adds to this made-from-scratch, but easy to prepare, dish and pairs perfectly with the beef in the meatballs (Do not even think about substituting canned pineapple!). Green bell peppers are one of the most versatile vegetables around, and diced with a rough-chop into larger chunks makes them stand up and give a garden-fresh taste to the sweetness of the pineapple and heartiness of the beef. The meatballs are simple but flavorful with minced onion, panko and crushed red pepper flakes. Before cooking, they are lightly rolled in flour to help keep the meaty juices inside and this step also aides in adhering the sauce to the meat.
The first time I made this dish I was skeptical that the sauce would have enough Asian influence, thinking the scant two tablespoons of soy sauce would be overpowered by the beef broth . But it was just right and the white wine vinegar adds tang for a satisfying finish in its complex pairing without the over-the-top sweet or salty flavors that sometimes come with traditional sweet and sour dishes.
And for the finish, the crushed red pepper flakes brings everything together. In fact, if you decide to leave them out at the end, you might find the dish lacking because that tiny bit of heat is super satisfying.
Every time I make this dish I wonder why I don’t make it more often because after taking that first bite… well let me just say again, THIS is comfort food, through and through. Try it for a great weeknight family meal or a pot luck crowd-pleaser.
Cook’s note: I have not made this using ground turkey but if you do, still use beef broth as your base and I would add less breadcrumbs so the meatballs are not too dry. Also, my family loves the meatballs with peppers and pineapple over brown basmati rice. Serve it with your favorite rice.
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ onion, diced very fine
- 1 whole egg
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs (or Regular Breadcrumbs)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more to taste
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Canola or Safflower oil, for frying
- 2 whole green bell peppers, seeded and diced roughly
- 1-1/2 cup FRESH pineapple chunks
- 2 cups beef stock or broth
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Salt to taste
- Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- Cooked brown or white rice for serving
- Combine ground beef, diced onion, egg, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and crushed red pepper. Mix with hands until combined. Roll meat mixture into small balls and place on a cookie sheet (Do not roll too tightly). Freeze on the pan for 15 minutes to firm up.
- Mix together beef stock, soy sauce, sherry (or vinegar), sugar, and cornstarch.
- Chop your pineapple and green pepper and set aside.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat. Roll meatballs in flour, then fry in two batches until nice and brown, about two minutes per batch. Remove meatballs and set aside on a separate plate.
- Pour off oil from pan and return pan to medium high heat. When pan is hot, throw in the chopped green peppers and cook for one minute. Add pineapple to pan and cook for one minute, stirring gently. Pour in stock/soy sauce mixture, then add meatballs back in. Stir gently to combine and allow to cook and bubble for a few minutes, or until sauce is thickened. (Your pan might be rather full here, but it only needs to simmer slightly to thicken. Add salt and crushed red peppers to taste. (Hint: this dish is yummy if it's a little spicy.)
- Serve over cooked brown or white rice with extra crushed red pepper flakes because it REALLY is better with a little extra.