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.
We haven’t prepared big, tennis ball sized meatballs in ages. Easy (lazy) dinner with fire-roasted tomato sauce, some beautiful toasted bread or noodles, and fresh greens dressed with zingy lemon.
POLPETTE ALLA NAPOLETANA
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.
CLASSIC BEEF MEATBALLS
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.
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
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. _____________________________________________
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.