Sunday, March 14, 2010

a public letter to Sara or meatballs, done the right way

Dearest Sara, I'm so very sorry for the delay. Yes, I've got the world's best meatball recipe. Many times I make these just by feel, but if you do them enough, you'll get the hang of it.

Here are the most important points from one Italian girl.
  • Soaking the bread in cream or milk gives almost a pudding-like texture to the interior of the meatballs. Fantastic.
  • Finely grate the garlic and finely chop the onion. They will soften a bit, but the smaller you make them the less noticeable they are.
  • Use three types of meat. I'm not a huge fan of veal. Well, let's put it this way. I'm a huge fan of the taste, but a little bit skittish of the killing of the baby cows. I just try to forget about that aspect. The texture and flavor of the veal add a remarkable background taste and texture in comparison to the harshness of the beef.
  • Because of the soft texture of these puppies, you don't need to have them simmer in tomato sauce for a long time. If you do, they'll fall apart. I've had much success baking them dry, then tossing them lightly with marinara right before serving. I often freeze half of the batch, unsauced, in ziploc bags. They freeze very well and are a great throw together meal on a night that you're busy.

Meatballs, done the right way
  1. Soak 3-4 slices of white bread (crusts removed) in one cup cup half-and-half. Set aside.
  2. Combine one half pound of each, ground pork, veal and beef, two eggs, 3/4 cup grated pecorino romano, 1/2 cup very finely chopped onion, two garlic cloves (grated), 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley, two or three grates of nutmeg, two teaspoons kosher salt, one teaspoon black pepper.
  3. Squeeze bread lightly to get some of the half-and-half out. Gently crumble into small pieces. Add to meat mixture.
  4. Mix together. I always start mixing with a spoon, only to end up having to use my hands. It feels gross at first, but you just have to pretend that it's not raw meat.
  5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil onto sheet.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop or a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop out mixture and roll into balls.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Let me know if you have any questions. I'm always here to help.


With love,

2 comments:

Kate said...

Since you're authorized to make challah, I'm hoping you'll grant me permission to make good meatballs. So far, the gods of ethnicity have conspired against me, but I will try again with this recipe.
Veal has always been a stumbling block, I must admit...

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