How to fix some screwed up meatballs?


Ok, I was following some online recipes for some meatballs that call for dried orange peel. I mixed the diced orange peel, cooked it, and it was the most horrible meatball ever. It didnt taste anything close to what it should be, and it tasted horrible. Had this, predictably so, overly prominent orangey taste that just was just wrong. The kids hated it. I hated it.

Ok before you said ‘who adds orange peel to a meatball’? I was trying to make the beef balls that they serve in Cantonese dimsum restaurants.

The unused batch is now in the freezer taking up space. I used good ground beef so I hated to throw the whole batch away. I’d like to salvage them if possible. Short of thawing them and then picking out each piece of small orange peel one by one (and hope that the taste hasn’t permeated through the meat balls), is there anything i can do to save the meatballs?


Will your kids eat casseroles? Or enchilada/burrito type things? If so I’d chop up the meatballs, mix with sauteed onion and zucchini and sauce with something like a mole sauce. The flavor of a mole sauce works with citrus so it could balance it out. A casserole could add hominy or rice to further dilute the flavor. A wrap could incorporate rice, beans, etc. to do the same.

If the children don’t like “mixed” dishes perhaps the orange flavor is less noticeable at room temperature? If so they might enjoy the meatballs as finger food with a dipping sauce.


At this point, I am just trying to salvage the ground beef so its acceptable enough for me to eat. :smile: I remember sitting at work trying to eat my lunch with the leftover meatballs and going, ‘man this is foul’. And I normally finish everything no matter how questionable it tastes. But I couldn’t do it with these meatballs.

We can always find something else for them…!


Oh, great idea about the dipping sauce. Perhaps I can get some good bbq sauce, slather all over the meatballs and hope it covers up the taste enough for me to down them.


That could work! My method is D & D - dilute and disguise. Slice the meatballs, sauce and put on a bun. Maybe melt cheese over top.

(saregama) #6

Are they already cooked? Otherwise I would add stronger stuff and make meatloaf… you’re not far from a korean version with some gochujang. Or add garlic, peppers, tomato paste to mask some of the fruitiness.

If cooked - crumble, add gochujang and tomato paste and make korean-ish sloppy joes or faux-bulgogi.


The orange peel makes me think of loukaniko sausage - maybe check out some recipes that call for it? I feel like the flavor might work with the other flavors in loukaniko (or Greek food in general), like fennel, leeks, oregano, feta, tzatziki, etc.

(erica) #8

I would turn them into curry, including coconut milk, onions, sweet bell peppers, and cashews.


I second that, if the orange taste is too overwhelming, it’s difficult to mask the taste, mix in more meat or pork…to dilute. Normally the tangerine peel should be very subtle with other ingredients.

If not, adding minced ginger, rice vinegar, rice wine, soy sauce or fish sauce, shallot, spring onion, honey, sesame oil and some chili. Maybe slightly pan fry a bit the balls to make them crispy on the surface.

(ChristinaM) #10

Make taco filling - tons of chili powder, onion and garlic. Mask the hell out if it and top with salsa, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and jalapeños.


Isn’t orange beef and broccoli a thing…?
I think you could chop it up, then stir fry with broccoli and as much chili oil or sweet chili sauce as you can handle with some sesame oil and maybe a little orange juice or sugar to balance the bitter peel.

I would try tweaking a few meatballs to test first before doing the whole batch

(Junior) #12

Honestly I would try a soup. Something with ginger might play nicely with the citrus flavor. The soup itself should help lessen the potency of the meatballs, hopefully the orange flavor will get diluted in the broth.


My first thought was to break them up and pan fry the meat with ginger and green onions, finish with a couple of splashes of soy sauce and make lettuce leaf roll ups.

If they’re really bitter, you might also want to add a bit of sugar or better yet, some honey.

You could add some cooked rice to the meat mixture at the end.

That’s what I would do.


I had a similar thought, maybe a sweet and sour sauce that you could use to mask the orangey meatballs.

If you get or somehow get a nice crust on the meatballs, maybe that could help with texture too?


Not sure what kind you used, but Chinese dried orange peel is usually made from tangerine or mandarin orange peel. Its not your traditinal navel/valencia orange.

I would repurpose into a stirfry and add heat via sambal oelek or red chilli flakes to offset the orange peel, along with soy sauce, oyster sauce and some hoisin. Add beef broth and a corn starch slurry for a saucier result.


agree with you
Friend of mine owns Hunan restaurant in Gaithersburg
I often observe tangerine peels being dried in a flat bamboo basket ( the ones used for separating rice from rice husks) at their home. I presume that is what they use in their restaurant for orange chicken or beef
I typically buy mine already dried from Asian Grocery store that last me a long time, use them to add fragrance stir frying certain food but usually remove the before serving.


If you have a dog, try it with him (her) first. If they like it, it is then re-purposed dog food… if not, then bite the bullet and dump them. (lol)


I would dump them. They are already cooked, and you don’t like the taste. Trying to mask the taste will not help. Kind of reminds me of used clothing on eBay that was never washed, and someone thought it was a good idea to drown it in perfume. Only makes it worse. I don’t like wasting food, but investing more time and money to fix it, would not be my choice. Good luck.


To clarify, its still raw.


Its my own dried mandarin peel. Perhaps I didn’t age them enough, compared to the ones for purchase in the market.