For a Halloween potluck amongst friends, I decided to create a dish of gooey, gut-filled fruit bats, roasted with their wings, and accompanied by addition blood sauce. I had previously made a dish of gut-filled bats using large tomatoes, but I decided that, being smaller, meatball fruit bats needed to be stuffed with grape tomatoes instead. After brainstorming on the idea for a while, this is the recipe that I came up with - appropriately gory and tasty, at the same time. They make a great addition to any gruesome Halloween buffet, and I have included direction for a vegetarian friendly version. Enjoy!
Step 1: Mixing Body Meat
Yes, it's just making meatballs, but isn't it more fun when you call it body meat? Yum!
This is my basic meatball mixture recipe. You can use your own favorite recipe in its place, if you prefer. Fruits bats aren't prejudiced.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 lb. of medium ground beef, 1 cup fresh bread crumbs*, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano.
Using a small ice cream scoop, portion out the meat mixture on a cutting board, to make the assembly easier.
Wash 1 pint of small cherry or grape tomatoes. I say small, because the bigger they are the less like fruit bats they will look. Also, small tomatoes are much easier to cover with the meat mixture, forming a complete meatball.
*Note: In this case, fresh bread crumbs are better, due to the fact that they absorb moisture better. I throw a few slices of old bread(which I keep handy in the freezer) in the food processor and pulse until I get a nice crumb.
Step 2: Forming Bat Bodies
Flatten one ball of meat in the palm of your hand and place a tomato in the center of the meat. Gently close the meat around the tomato, taking care to cover the tomato completely. Don't try rolling the meatball between you hands - the slipperiness of the tomato causes the meat to slide completely off. Place each finished meatball on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet. The foil makes clean-up much easier, which I failed to use in my own attempt at these fruit bats. I really should have used foil.
Continue making balls until you either run out of meat or tomatoes. Feel free to snack on the leftover tomatoes. DO NOT snack on the leftover meat.
Step 3: Roasting Bat Bodies
Bake the meatballs at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Step 4: Fruit Bats for Fruit Lovers
I also made a vegetarian option for my friends who prefer less(read: NO) meat in their diet. Mix together 1 package of Veggie ground round with 1 cup fresh bread crumbs. Squeeze together into balls and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Unfortunately, due to the crumbly nature of veggie ground round, the "meat" cannot be balled around the tomato, but I do believe that vegetarians would prefer a fruit bat without the guts. I served the tomatoes in a bowl alongside the "meat"balls.
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
Step 5: Making Bat Wings
Make a pie dough, either from a mix, from frozen, or from scratch. Due to time constraints, I opted for a boxed mix, so I mixed 1/4 cup of hot water with the mix to form a dough. Once the dough is ready, mix in a combination of food coloring to obtain a brown dough, similar to the brown of the meatballs.
(Be careful, since not every combination results in brown, as previously determined in kindergarten through mixing together every paint color on the palette. I tried this technique, and obtained PINK. In an attempt to correct this, I added ALOT of black, and obtained PURPLE. I still cannot figure out why. )
Step 6: Cutting Bat Wings
On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Using a large knife cut out wings. First, make vertical cuts in the dough about 1-1/2 inches apart. Make a second set of cuts on a diagonal to create diamond shapes, also 1-1/2 inches apart. Using a small round pastry cutter or substitute(I used a pastry tip), cut a round section out of the bottom of each wing. See the series of photos below for a clear idea of how to cut out the bat wings.
Step 7: Baking the Bat Wings
Line up the pastry wings on a cookie sheet and bake according to the chosen recipe or pie crust directions. Mine went in the oven at 450 degrees for 8 minutes. And they looked purple.
Step 8: Assembly
Time to make fruit bats. Follow along with the photos if the written steps are not clear enough. First, stab a toothpick into the top of a meatball. Using a second toothpick, dig a hole into each side of the meatball, piercing the tomatoey guts. This will make the assembly much easier. Insert a wing into each hole, being careful not to break them, as the pastry is flaky and fragile.
Proceed through the same steps for the vegetarian "meat"balls, remoulding when necessary.
Step 9: Presentation
Gently place fruits bats onto serving platters and serve with a side of extra blood(ketchup). Wings tend to fall out of their sockets if bats are jostled around enough.
Step 10: Epilogue
I always try to better my recipes after having completed them once. Here are some thoughts I have to better the fruit bats for next time. Feel free to contribute your own ideas!
- Find smaller tomatoes. For some reason, the grape tomatoes at the store this week were HUGE, even larger than the cherry tomatoes! The smaller the tomatoes, the better the final results, I think. AT least the bat won't be losing their guts BEFORE they come out of the oven.
- Get better food coloring options to better match the color of the pie dough to the color of the meatballs. And try, desperately, not to get it all over hands.
-Try a bat-shaped cookie cutter. Cutting out the wings would be much easier, and there's always the option to place the meatballs in the center of the pie dough bat shape for a better, more solid hold. The only down side to this option is the fact that the bats will have to be served lying down.
- Try to find a better alternative for the vegetarian fruit bats. Veggie ground round just doesn't stick together!
Otherwise, I am relatively happy with the results. The bats were tasty, and enjoy by my victims - err - guests.