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Shake Up Your Classic Meatballs With Creamy Vodka Sauce

Meatballs in a creamy sauce
Meatballs in a creamy sauce - Vladislav Chusov/Shutterstock

There are probably more than a million and one ways to prepare meat -- grill it, smoke it, fry it, bake it into a loaf, stew it into a pot of soup -- there's almost no wrong way to take a piece of raw meat and make it into a culinary masterpiece. Among the many ways to prepare meat, a universally favorite way is to make any of a wide variety of meatballs. Satisfying, hearty, and easy-to-make, meatballs can be a no-brainer when you want to make a simple meat-based dish. As delicious as they may be, there's always room to revolutionize culinary classics, which is why you should smother your next batch of meatballs in a creamy vodka sauce.

When you introduce vodka sauce into your favorite meatball recipe you're presented with an infusion of flavors that spans richness, savoriness, and whispers of tanginess that will take your meatballs to surprisingly flavorful new heights. Whether you're using dairy or plant-based varieties, the soft, velvety texture of cream offers a decadent textural contrast to the hearty density of the meatballs. This creamy, booze-infused sauce can mitigate overcooked or too-tough meatballs by providing them with flavor-packed moisture.

Regardless of whether you craft your meatballs with chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb, or even a plant-based meat substitute, creamy vodka sauce works well with the full spectrum of animal and plant proteins, guaranteeing that you'll never have to compromise flavor for your dietary preferences.

Read more: 15 Tips For Making The Best Meatloaf

Vodka Sauce Fast Facts

Vodka sauce in a bowl
Vodka sauce in a bowl - Michelle Lee Photography/Getty Images

Vodka is a neutral spirit, which means it doesn't have a strong flavor of its own. When used in cooking, vodka helps extract and intensify the flavors of the herbs, spices, and aromatics present in the sauce and the meatballs. Vodka is also an effective solvent for fat, and because you'll need a source of fat to give the sauce its creamy essence, the alcohol helps dissolve and carry the fat-soluble flavors, bolstering the overall mouthfeel and richness of the sauce.

During the cooking process, the alcohol in the vodka evaporates, leaving behind its flavor-enhancing qualities without the actual alcohol content. While some residual alcohol may remain depending on the cooking time and method, the amount is typically minimal and not enough to cause intoxication.

Vodka can also be used for deglazing pans, especially when making a sauce after searing meat or sautéing aromatics. Deglazing involves adding liquid to a hot pan to loosen and lift the flavorful browned bits, called fonds, stuck to the bottom of the pan. Vodka helps to incorporate these fonds into the sauce, ensuring every bit of available flavor is present in your saucy meatball dish.

Complementary Pairings

Baked meatballs with cheese
Baked meatballs with cheese - Esin Deniz/Shutterstock

Once you've prepared your meatballs with a creamy vodka sauce, you'll need some side dishes and other pairings to complement its decadence. If you choose to make a tomato-based vodka sauce, you can take the familiar route and pile your saucy meatballs on top of a heap of spaghetti noodles. Make a platter of garlic bread, or a toast a baguette for dipping into your hearty dish.

You don't have to partner your meatballs only with pasta. Pair vodka sauce meatballs with Parmesan-roasted potatoes for a balanced blend of flavors -- the creamy, zesty richness of the sauce complements the earthy, crispy exterior of the potatoes. Of course, it's also hard to go wrong by serving your meatballs with a side of caramelized vegetables, which can bring a touch of rustic, and nutritious, sweetness.

If you're a wine drinker, you can elevate your dining experience by sipping on a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio; a dry white wine not only complements the creamy sauce but also accentuates the nuanced flavors of the meatballs. For a non-alcoholic beverage option, sparkling water adorned with a hint of citrus -- whether it's the zing of lemon zest or a twist of lime -- adds a lively and effervescent dimension to a rich meal of meatballs.

Whichever way you choose to serve your meatballs, as long as you're topping them with creamy vodka sauce, your tastebuds will thank you.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.