Polly Dutton Meatballs

My first post as an Ensign in the Navy was as Communications Officer aboard the USS Tulare AKA112, stationed in San Diego. For a guy who had never been out of Ohio until he was 19, this was a paradise! The Tulare, named for Tulare County in California where the redwoods grow, was an Attack Cargo Ship (AKA), basically a merchant cargo ship configured for Navy use. We carried the boats used in amphibious landings. We’d hoist the boats out of the cargo hold and drop them gently (usually) into the ocean, where Marines from the Attack Personnel Ships (APA) would swarm aboard.
USS Tulare AKA112.jpg
So we were a big ship with few people aboard. Luxurious. As an Ensign, I was assigned a stateroom shared by only one other Officer! This may be the only type of ship in the Navy with that luxury of space.

While in port I bunked with Carol in Coronado, a virtual island reached by ferry across the Bay from San Diego. Coronado was a nice, quiet town with a few small restaurants and the Hotel Del Coronado. The quiet went away when the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge opened in 1969. This was also when Coronado got its first traffic control signal light, but we were long gone by then.

Polly Dutton lived down the street from us in Coronado and gave us this recipe. Her husband, Tony, was a fellow officer on the Tulare. They were both native Californians: she grew up an architect’s daughter in LA, and he grew up in Pebble Beach. Now they live in Texas.

When I was in Jerusalem, I used this recipe as the basis for Marc’s Meatballs Supreme.

meatballs served.JPG

Recipe: Polly Dutton Meatballs

This recipe can easily be cut in half, but I don’t recommend it, the leftovers are delicious.

Preheat oven to 375 °
1# hamburger
1 large onion, chopped fine
5 slices bread (no crust)
1/2 C warm milk
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 t poultry seasoning
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup

Soak bread in milk, and then mix all ingredients (except soup) together with your hands.
Roll meat mixture into balls, about the size of an egg. The mixture is fairly loose, so handle the balls with care.

Brown the balls in a skillet in just enough oil to cover the bottom. You’ll need to do in two or three batches; add a little vegetable oil between batches.

Put balls in a casserole or baking dish.
Add Cream of Mushroom Soup to the skillet—with a little white wine or broth to thin—stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon to clean up all the tasty meat bits from the bottom of the skillet, and then pour over balls. Cook 35 minutes in 375 ° oven.

Recipe: Marc’s Meatballs Supreme
Parboil a washed, but unpeeled potato and carrot for about 15 minutes, or until just cooked through (stick a paring knife into the center to test). Meanwhile, follow the above recipe to the point where meatballs are browned. Remove balls from skillet and reserve.

Slice potato and carrot in thick slices. Brown potato and carrot in the skillet. Arrange potato and carrot slices in casserole or baking dish. Put the reserved balls on top.

Continue with mushroom soup…

meatballs underway.JPG

6 thoughts on “Polly Dutton Meatballs

  1. OK IS THIS U MR DUTTON JACK SM2 USS TULARE AKA 112

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  2. Jack Briggs,
    Thanks for your comment.
    The writer is LtJG Rector who served in the Ops Department of the Tulare 1961-63. I’m writing about Mr. Dutton’s wife’s recipe for meatballs.

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  3. Searching for “Big T” items, I stumbled across your article. I knew Mr Dutton as I served as an ET from 9/62-9/65 on the “Tulare”. I believe I knew you also. I’ll have try the recipe as it looks good! The Tulare’s web-site has really grown over the years and it’s great to hear from many former shipmates.

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  4. To Bob Wood,
    Of course we worked together, as I was CIC Officer and Communications Officer from 8/61 to 8/63. Considering the state of electronics in those days, we probably cussed at one another on a few occasions. Good to hear from you.

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  5. I DON’T REMEMBER MARCUS, BUT BEING A SIGNALMAN WE WERE BY OURSELVES A LOT OFFICERS DID NOT COME UP ON THE BRIDGE A LOT. HI BOB. BRIGGS SM2

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  6. Jack, Thanks for sharing this. And hello to all the other Tulare sailors.

    George Dean OI Div RDSN/RD2 March ’58-Sept. ’60

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