Archive | March, 2013

Spicy Meatball

24 Mar

Nobody really needs a meatball recipe, right? Pretty simple stuff.
Although we are loving the Meatball Shop’s luscious recipes (especially for sliders and Thai balls) we are kicking ourselves for tossing an old recipe clipping for La Brezza’s meatballs. They were Marco Abdi’s mother-in-law’s recipe, with lots of grassy parsley and at least a cup of parmesan cheese in the mix. Frack.

A great looking New York Times recipe has the basic ratio of 2 lbs beef, 1 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 cup parmesan, 2 eggs, 2 tbsp each fresh basil and parsley, plus garlic, salt and pepper.

We haven’t prepared big, tennis ball sized meatballs in ages. Although we love hearty spag and meatball dinners in winter, we are kind of thinking about an easy (lazy) summer al fresco version with white wine, lots of fresh herbs, crunchy water chestnuts, bright citrus and fresh greens dressed with zingy lemon.

Happy to encase some cubes of melt-in-the-middle-meatballs.

Daniel Holzman of The Meatball Shop shares his recipe for chicken dish
Skip the usual choice of spaghetti and serve this fresh meatball dish, seasoned with white wine and parsley.

2 pounds ground chicken thighs
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. ground fennel seed
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup dried bread crumbs
2 eggs
Preheat oven to 450. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until combined. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Roll mixture into golf-ball-size meatballs, packing them firmly (wet hands to prevent meat from sticking; alternatively, you can use an ice cream scoop). Place meatballs in baking dish in even rows so they’re touching. Bake until meatballs are cooked through, about 14 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes, then serve.

Nigella’s summer meatballs

500g each ground pork and chicken mince

2 chopped cloves garlic

3 slices day-old bread, made into breadcrumbs in the food processor

2 eggs

4 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated

2 tablespoons chopped basil


1 onion

2 carrots

2 sticks celery

(experiment with fresh fennel one day)

zest from ½ lemon

½ tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 750g bottle passata

1 cup skim milk

Whiz onions, garlic, lemon zest, carrots and celery in a food processor. Saute in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and cook gently for 10 minutes or so. Add passata and 500ml of water into the saucepan and bring to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the milk and simmer for another 15 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, make the meatballs. Place the bowl in the fridge to firm while the sauce is simmering. Bring to the boil again, and then simmer partially covered for about 30 minutes.


From Mario Batalli

Rather than frying, we will roast the meatballs until brown in a 375F oven to avoid the mess, and then add them to simmering tomato sauce til cooked through.
3 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes, no bigger! (could use slightly less, ours were too gummy)
1 1/4 pounds ground beef (we used nearly 2 lbs)
3 eggs, beaten
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup pecorino,
grated 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup (could use more)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted for 2 minutes in a 400 degree F oven – don’t mind skipping this to save our pinenuts for pear gorgonzola pizza)
1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in enough water (or milk?) to cover. Remove the bread cubes and squeeze by hand to wring excess moisture. In a large bowl, combine the bread, beef, eggs, garlic, pecorino, parsley, pine nuts, salt, and pepper and mix by hand to incorporate bread into meat. With wet hands, form the mixture into 12 to 15 meatballs, each of a size somewhere between a tennis ball and a golf ball. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil until almost smoking. Add the meatballs, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan, and cook until deep golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Serve warm or at room temperature, note that Italians would rarely serve meatballs with pasta.


The Meatball Shop Cookbook
Makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch meatballs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds 80 percent lean ground beef
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
4 cups Tomato Sauce
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle olive oil into a 9-by 13-inch baking dish; using your hand, evenly coat entire surface. Set aside. In a large bowl, use your hands to mix together beef, ricotta, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, salt, red-pepper flakes, and fennel until fully incorporated. Roll mixture into firmly packed 1 1/2-inch balls. Place meatballs in prepared baking dish, taking care to line them up snugly so that they are touching one another in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. Transfer baking dish to oven. Bake until meatballs are firm and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball reads 165 degrees. Meanwhile, heat tomato sauce in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Remove meatballs from oven and carefully drain excess grease from pan. Pour heated sauce over meatballs and return to oven; cook for 15 minutes more. Serve.



Makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch meatballs
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds pork shoulder, ground
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
4  jarred hot cherry peppers, minced
1/4 cup hot cherry pepper pickling liquid
4 slices fresh white bread, minced
3 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Drizzle the olive oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside. Combine the ground pork, salt, cherry peppers, pickling liquid, bread, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated. Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 ½ inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°F. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.


4 Mar


Wow — we finally found a stand-out carnitas recipe for a bright-tasting feast on a bleak winter night. Are you digging the torilla cacti, courtesy of my cookie cutters from a 1986 Arizona trip?

We’ve tried many carnitas recipes, and all were tasty but this is head and shoulders above with its herbaceous goodness. Less focus on citrus that, in our opinion, washes out during roasting, and more on the magic of savoury onion, oregano, thyme and bay leaf. Also, salt is key here. It seems like a lot, and we do skimp every time, but it’s also a lot of meat.



Made this for a dinner party, but while wolfing down leftovers the next afternoon, a revelation: Calgary-20130303-00569[1]

We should have served these open-faced, warm from the oven, rather than passing around separate bowls of tortillas, meat and crumbled cheese. Line a baking sheet with tortillas, and pile cheese and shredded meat on top. Warm in oven so they’re melty. Arrange two on each diner’s plate and serve. Guests can then pile on toppings: red onion ceviche, guac, sour cream, squeezes of lime, cilantro, hot sauce, etc. The tacos fold better and the melted cheese keeps ’em together.

Result: Three less bowls to clutter and pass around the table, and the melted cheese help the tacos stay warmer!

from Roberto Santibañez’s Tacos, Tortas and Tamales
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon dried Mexican or regular oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
5 scant teaspoons kosher salt
5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks
3 dried bay leaves
1 cup Coca-Cola

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Blend the garlic, onion, oregano, thyme, salt, and 1/2 cup of water in a food processor until smooth. You want this to look really loose and slushy, so if your onion is too dry, add a splash more water.

Combine the pork and bay leaves in a 6-quart Dutch oven or deep baking dish — make sure there are no more than two layers of meat. Pour the blended mixture and the soda over pork and toss well.


Cover the pot/pan and roast in the oven until the pork is tender, about 2 hours. The bubbling coke burns and blackens the sides of your pot — so avoid using your Le Creuset if you are prone to tears. We used our black ceramic slow cooker insert and it was fine, but still a bitch to clean. Above: we’ve also used a parchment-lined roaster. Clean up was a breeze but did add an additional 20 or 30 minutes to the uncovered crisping phase.

Uncover the pot and return it to the oven. Continue cooking, tossing well and scraping the bottom of the pot every 10 minutes, until the pork is slightly crispy on the outside and deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Remove pork and coarsely shred. We put the remaining liquid through a fat strainer so we could separate the onion/herb mixtures from the grease as much as possible. Then added the onion mash back to the shredded pork, tossing to coat.