Meatballs: A hearty addition to any menu

September 04 2013

More and more Canadian restaurants are discovering the significant potential for culinary experimentation that the humble meatball can provide.

An ideal addition to any menu at a time of a year when the seasons are changing and customers are starting to get an appetite for heartier foods, the meatball is gaining popularity among chefs and food service operators across the country.

Statistics provided by consultancy firm Technomic show that the incidence of meatballs on Canadian chain restaurant menus rose by nearly 12 per cent from the second quarter of 2012 to the corresponding period this year, with the easily shareable food proving to be a particularly popular appetizer.

One of the key plus points of meatballs is their versatility, as this ingredient can be used in the preparation of all sorts of different types of dish.

Many diners consider meatballs to be synonymous with spaghetti and pasta-based meals, but they can also be used as a delicious sandwich filling, add flavour to a stew or bake, or simply be served on their own with a variety of accompaniments.

Canadian restaurants are taking this to heart and showing a willingness to experiment with the formula, incorporating unusual meat choices - such as the duck meatballs offered by the Fable restaurant in Vancouver - or exotic flavourings.

Meanwhile, the Meatball Shoppe food truck in Hamilton, Ontario has added a uniquely Canadian twist to the recipe by incorporating meatballs into a poutine dish, which is served with sweet basil and garlic sauce and sprinkled with fresh cilantro.

According to Christine LaFave Grace, associate editor at Technomic, one of the best ways to communicate the appeal of meatballs is to simply use high-quality ingredients - a fact they should make sure to communicate to potential buyers.

She said: "With meatballs' familiar format on their side, operators can explore a range of bold and globally inspired flavours, all nicely rolled into an easily accessible dish."