Going Super Meta-: Can I Make an Orange Made of Meat?
This is another post in the Going Super Meta- series: me watching a YouTube video of something someone saw on IG and then trying to make a version of it and posting it on the internet. This one was so funny! It is a Tasty YouTube video where they are recreating a "meat fruit" from IG. It looked like a mandarin orange, but it was orange gelatin with pâté inside. This post details my attempts at making small clementine oranges of meat and also larger normal-sized oranges of meat. I wrote what actually worked in a separate post: How to Make a Budget Orange of Meat (Meatball Encased by Salsa con Queso Gelatin).
Going Super Meta- was so fun before and I came up with some new and awesome art projects (Marshmallow Christmas Tree, Marshmallow Pretzel Wreath and Marshmallow Pretzel Menorah). See links below.
I had previously thought I don't like it when foods look like other foods. Specifically, I mentioned that I thought I don't like it when desserts look like savory foods, which is not the case here. In any case, I'm coming around, I actually think it's really funny when foods look like other foods. Haha. :)
You can get the original meat fruit from IG at a restaurant in London Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, for about $30-40. When I checked the website today, it was a plum meat fruit (not an orange). The first meat fruit recipes back to the 1300s or 1500s in England!
A few things from the start:
1.) I knew I didn't want to make pâté (too classy, haha); I thought I could use a meatball in the middle.
2.) I didn't really think that orange flavor would go well with a meatball, so I was looking for something else that was orange for the outer exterior and I thought that salsa con queso mixed with gelatin would work.
I had been playing around with gelatin and learning how to make soup dumplings (see links), but I was not sure if mixing gelatin powder with salsa con queso would work and result in a gelatin. I don't think anyone in history has ever tried to make a salsa con queso gelatin. Haha. :)
Experiment #1: Can you make salsa con queso gelatin?
I heated up some salsa con queso on the stove and I just added the gelatin powder straight into the salsa con queso. I didn't add any water or anything -- just salsa con queso and gelatin powder.
The I put it in an ice cube tray sprayed with cooking spray and put it in the fridge to set.
RESULT: Salsa con queso gelatin is a thing! :)
We are good at this! You can see the little cubes of salsa con queso gelatin. So I knew that I could use salsa con queso+gelatin powder to form the outer exterior of the orange of meat. I even tried one. It tasted like salsa con queso with the texture of American cheese. I used the extra cubes of salsa con queso in other recipes I came up with (stay tuned!).
Attempt #1: Clementine Oranges of Meat
With this knowledge, my plan was to make meatballs and then cover them w/ the orange salsa con queso gelatin and then let it solidify. I also got mint leaves to mimic the leaves of the oranges.
To give me the best shot at making spheres for the oranges, I used this silicon hemisphere mold I had. They were maybe ~ 1 1/2" in diameter, so they were going to be smaller than in the video or the original meat fruit. Instead of mandarin oranges, they would be little clementines.
I just made a basic meatball mixture with egg, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper. I sprayed the silicone mold with cooking spray. I put the meatball mixture in the mold and then I clipped together the mold with binder clips (which were metal - so they were fine in the oven), so that 2 hemispheres would make a whole sphere. In some of them I tried to stuff the meatballs with some mozzarella cheese.
When the meatballs came out, some of them were pretty good spheres, definitely better than if I tried to roll them myself. :)
I dipped them in the mixture of salsa con queso + gelatin and put them in the fridge to set.
Something I didn't account for, which probably no one in history knew before me -- is that meatballs absorb salsa con queso gelatin. Haha. :)
One layer was not enough and you can still see the meatball coming through the orange gelatin.
I had to dip them again in salsa con queso+gelatin and let them set in the fridge again to make a layer and then meatball still showed through, so I did it again.
In total, I dipped them 3 times in salsa con queso+gelatin to get the outer exterior without any meatball showing through.
I had put a lot of extra salsa con queso on them to try to make sure they got an adequate layer and you can see when it solidified there was some extra, which I will call a "skirt". :) I used a knife and cut off the "skirt" and sculpted them into spheres.
RESULT: Success! :)
We are good at this! How good do they look? I texted a picture to my family and I fooled them into thinking they were real oranges. Haha. :) They just taste like a meatball with salsa con queso that has American cheese texture, so that's good.
There are several photos. First, a comparison photo w/ real clementine oranges, then without leaves, then a few with leaves (far away and closer up).
Give it a try -- but the easier way I figured out later! So this orange of meat is probably less than $1. You can ball on a budget and get an orange of meat. Haha. :)
We are good at this!
Attempt #2: Normal-Sized / Giant Orange of Meat
Plan: Stack 4 meatballs in the middle as a pyramid of meatballs and then build a sphere around it by stacking layers of salsa con queso gelatin. Then, cover the whole thing with salsa con queso gelatin to cover the edges or seams and sculpt.
Center of the sphere
First, I made the meatballs in the same silicon hemisphere mold. Then I stacked 1 on top of 3 to make a pyramid. This was the center of the sphere. I put it in this circle cookie cutter and poured slasa con queso gelatin mixture into the mold. Once it solidified then I could carve out the center of the sphere (with meatballs and salsa con queso+gelatin).
This is what it looked like when I poured the salsa con queso+gelatin powder and then what it solidified.
Top of the spheres (attempt) -- I didn't end up using them.
I wanted to make the top of the sphere with the round edge, but I didn't have a big enough sphere mold. I thought I could make one by using foil and molding it to a round edge, which happened to be the round butt of this elephant sculpture my family got for me in India, I think.
The foil became creased and didn't really stay in a round shape. It was fun though. I didn't use it as the top of the sphere. I did use it to fill in some gaps when I was sculpting later.
Other parts of the sphere -- which became the top and bottom
I used these 2 ramekins to form other parts of the sphere. It worked out because they are slightly smaller in diameter than the circle cookie cutter I had used.
Putting the Normal-Sized / Giant Orange of Meat Together:
I stacked the pieces and then I carved the edges to sculpt a sphere. I used some of the little pieces I had made for the top and bottom where there were gaps . Then I covered it in salsa con queso+gelatin again to try to cover some seams and smooth out the edges.
RESULT: Fail. :)
We are good at this? It looks okay, not as good as my clementines. If you squint and look at it with one eye from far away, it looks like an orange. Haha! It actually has kind of more of an apple shape. It's harder than it looks to carve salsa con queso gelatin with a butterknife, haha. :)
On the upside, you can slice it and then microwave it for 30 seconds, then you have salsa con queso/velveeta with meatballs dip. Haha. :)
Attempt #3: Mandarin orange of meat
I got a bigger hemisphere silicone mold for some other art and cooking projects and this one was about the size of the orange in the Tasty YouTube video and the original one.
Plan: Make a meatball that is smaller than the larger hemisphere mold. Make 2 hemispheres of solid salsa con queso gelatin and carve out a hole in the middle to fit the meatball.
The meatballs were about ~1" in diameter. I just hand-rolled them; it didn't matter if they were a sphere because I was going to be carving the hole in the middle anyways. These are the 2 solid hemispheres of gelatin.
Then I carved a hole in the middle of each piece, so the meatball would fit inside. The first attempt wasn't deep enough and I had to carve out a little bit more.
RESULT: Success. :)
We are good at this. How good does that look? There are a few photos: one without leaves, then one with leaves and then when I sliced it open.
This was the easiest way by far. I will detail the steps/instructions in the upcoming post: How to Make a Budget Orange of Meat (Meatball Encased by Salsa con Queso Gelatin). Stay tuned!
You could even buy a meatball and then just do the fun part of encasing it in salsa con queso gelatin. I could have played around with the ratio of gelatin powder to salsa con queso and done it again with less gelatin powder to get a more orange color, but I was pretty happy with it. The little tan areas are gelatin that I didn't mix in all the way. Also, if you look closely you can see specks of green and red peppers. That's what you get when you use salsa con queso; it tastes good. You could also use cheddar sauce if you want and it wouldn't have the specks.
Give it a try! We are good at this! Going super meta- is super fun! :)