These Meteorite Meatballs are simple, fun and delicious. Moreover, they are a great lesson in how to bring a prehistoric twist to any dish you can imagine for a dinosaur-themed birthday party or just to delight your little dinosaur fan.
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Rex’s Recipe Rundown
- Title: Meteorite Meatballs
- Food: Delicious meatballs, meteorite shaped of course
- Dinosaur: All the dinosaurs of the Cretaceous Period
- Best for: Dinosaur-themed birthday parties, watching football, pasta night
- Ease: 5 out of 5 – Our little dinosaur aficionado did all the work
Meteor or meteorite?
These meatballs are inspired by a meteor meatballs recipe in a children’s party ideas cookbook. They were one of the ideas for a space-themed party. However, I thought they would work well as a dinosaur recipe.
However, the terminology is not quite correct.
A meteorid is an object in space – a space rock if you may. They range in size from dust grains to small asteroids.
When a meteorid enters the Earth’s atmosphere (or the atmosphere of another planet) at high speed and burns up, we view them as shooting stars. They are then meteors.
When the meteor survives the Earth’s atmosphere and hits the Earth, the space rock is called a meteorite.
Our meatballs are meteorite meatballs, inspired by the meteor meatballs recipe.
The meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs
In 1980, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Luis Walter Alvarez and his son, Walter Alvarez, submitted a hypothesis that a large meteorite struck the Earth at the time of the end of the Cretaceous period, about 66 MYA. This impact, they submitted, caused the extinction 75% of life on Earth, including non-avian dinosaurs.
The impact would have caused a huge tsunami – a megatsunami over 100 metres tall – and triggered earthquakes equivalent to a magnitude 12, as well as volcanic eruptions and shock waves equivalent to a magnitude 9 earthquake. A cloud of hot dust, ash and steam would have spread from the crater, igniting wildfires and covering the entire surface of the earth for several years, possibly as long as a decade. This would have blocked sunlight, interrupting plant growth, affecting the food chain and cooling the Earth’s surface significantly. It may also have caused acid rain.
In 1981, the search started to find a suitable crater that would evident the meteorite impact.
Eventually, evidence pointed to an impact crater buried underneath the Yucatá Peninsula in Mexico near the town of Chicxulub. This has become known as the Chicxulub crater.
Experts estimate that the crater is 150 km in diameter, 20 km deep, and was formed by the impact of an asteroid or comet that was 11 to 81 km in diameter. The date of the impact coincides with the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (K-Pg Boundary), around 66 million years ago.
In 2010, 41 experts from around the globe reviewed the evidence associated with the Chicxulub crater and concluded that the impact caused the dinosaurs to become extinct.
More recent theories proffer that there may have been multiple impacts that caused the mass extinction. Once probable crater, known as the Shiva crater, which now lies off the coast of India, is around 500 km in diameter and was formed 65 MYA.
Why you need to make these Meteorite Meatballs
Enough about meteorites and mass extinction, why do you need to make these meteorite meatballs?
These meatballs are so versatile:
- Serve them at your little dinosaur fan’s dinosaur-themed birthday party. All you need is some ketchup and toothpicks. You can even try some dinosaur toothpicks to serve them (these also work great as cupcake toppers or to serve fruit for the herbivores).
- Serve them as pre-game or half-time snacks for your favourite sport, such as the Super Bowl. They might incite a discussion about which dinosaur would be best at each position. Consider getting one of these dinosaur bowls to serve them and serve with a side of salsa. Or make meteorite meatballs out of pork and serve them with Thai sweet chili sauce. You might want to make some Triceratops dip, too.
- Serve them with pasta. Why do normal spaghetti and meatballs when you can do meteorite meatballs with dinosaur pasta? You might need this Nessie ladle to serve them into these dinosaur bowls.
- If there are any left over (not that it is likely), you can easily eat them cold the next day, especially if you store them in these reusable snack bags.
Give your dish a prehistoric twist
One of the best things about these meteorite meatballs is that they are a lesson in how to turn a normal dish into a dinosaur dish, without really changing anything.
Not everything needs to be dinosaur shaped or made to look like a dinosaur to be a dinosaur recipe. All you need to do is find an appropriate dinosaur name and slant that invokes a little imagination and makes sense.
- Herbivore snacks (vegetables)
- Swamp mush (anything mushy and green)
- Carnivore treats (meat)
- Ichnites (anything cut into a dinosaur footprint shape)
- Ammonites (anything rolled up to look like a snail)
- Claws or teeth (anything in the right shape)
- Dinosaur eggs and nests
- Volcano or lava sauce or cakes
For example, these meteorite meatballs are round – meteor shaped – can be served warm with a tomato sauce so that they look hot and most people know that a meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs.
But they do not have to be meatballs! If you have something else that is meteor shaped and looks like a rock – like falafel or protein balls – you can call them meteorites too!
This is a great tool when trying to decide what to serve for a dinosaur birthday party and means that you are not limited to (dinosaur-shaped) chicken nuggets.
Tips for making these meteorite meatballs
If we’re honest, you can use any meatball recipe that you like and serve them up as meteorite meatballs. If you have a favourite family recipe, there is no need to change it.
If you are going to make our recipe, we have a few tips.
- You can use any meat you like, but we’d recommend that you don’t use the leanest meat you can find. A little fat helps these meatballs stick together. If you are using a lean meat, like ground turkey, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the mixture.
- Don’t use the fattiest meat you can find either. It will liquify when cooking and – together with the other fluids in the meat – will boil rather than brown the meatballs.
- You can add and remove ingredients depending on who is meant to eat them. Our LDA doesn’t like onion or garlic, or too much “green stuff” (parsley). I have been known to hide finely-grated carrot or zucchini in the mix. If you want a little spice, add some finely-chopped chili or some paprika. You may have to add another egg to make sure they will still stick together.
- Mix and form the meatballs with your hands. Put a little bit of cooking oil on your hands to make it easier to form the meteorite meatballs.
- You can cook these meatballs in a frypan or in the oven, depending on what you prefer. I prefer the oven. You might need these dinosaur oven mitts to remove them from the oven.
- You little dinosaur fan can definitely help to make these. They will love mixing with their hands and helping to form the balls.
- 1 cup of fresh bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 250 g ground beef
- 250 g ground pork
- 1 large egg
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
- cooking oil (if frying in the pan)
- For the pasta sauce (optional)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, grated
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- About 250mL beef or vegetable stock
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- A small handful of fresh basil, shredded
- Put the bread crumbs In a large mixing bowl and add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring through until the bread is fully moistened. Let it rest to go soggy for at least 5 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Add the beef, pork, eggs, onion, garlic, parsley, tomato paste, parmesan and season with with salt and pepper. Use your fingers to break up the meat and mix until all the ingredients are evenly meat. Press a section of the mixture togeter in a fist to check that the mixture holds together. If needed, add another beated egg.
- Shape the mixture into evenly sized meatballs, about 3 cm in diameter.
- Preheat oven to 200°c. Brush a non-stick baking tray with olive oil.
- Place the formed meatballs on the baking tray leaving a little space between the meatballs.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the meatballs. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
- Pour a little olive oil into a non-stick pan and heat over medium heat.
- Cook the meatballs in 2-3 batches so that there is space between them. Cook until browned on the bottom (about 5 minutes) then turn and cook the opposite side until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Alternately: Once you've browned the meatballs, put them all in the frypan and put the frypan in the oven to cook the meteor meatballs for a further 10 minutes.
- Brown the onions, carrot and garlic in a large frypan over medium heat until soft and the onion become translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and stir through so that all the onion and carrot is coated.
- Add the cans of tomato, balsamic vinegar, sugar and oregano. Fill one of the cans with stock of your choice and add to the pan, stirring though. Season to your liking. Bring to the boil then reduce to a low heat to allow the sauce to simmer for about 20 minutes or until a nice consistency is reached.
- Stir the meteorite meatballs and shredded basil into the sauce a few minutes before serving.
For the Meteorite Meatballs
Oven baked method
Pan fry method
For the marinara sauce (optional)
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 servings Serving Size 10 meatballs
Amount Per Serving Calories 692Total Fat 36gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 176mgSodium 997mgCarbohydrates 45gFiber 5gSugar 15gProtein 47g
Nutrition information is a guide only as it will depend on the specific products and brands you choose to use for this recipe.
Make some ‘meteorite’ meatballs with your little dinosaur fan
You can make any meatball recipe into ‘meteorite’ meatballs, but ours are simple, fun and guaranteed to be delicious. They also prove that most recipes can become dinosaur-inspired recipes with just a little imagination.