Time to discuss one of my favorite food subjects…the MEATBALL. Let’s start out with this tidbit, there’s no such thing as the “ITALIAN MEATBALL”. Why you ask? Because I said so. And here’s why…there are meatballs of all shapes and sizes and ingredients made all over Italy. Most likely you’re assuming the meatball in the big pot of sauce is the “Italian Meatball”. Well that’s certainly one of many. Meatballs as a cocktail party or party food are fantastic since they are small. They work well at a party and are generally a one bite affair. For parties one of the meatball recipes I’ve developed is the SAN MARZANO COCKTAIL MEATBALL. What is that all about? Scenario, you’re at a party…you’re dressed up..nice suit, shirt, dress, whatever. You pick up the meatball out of the pan or platter and it’s dripping with sauce. YIKES! Big sauce stain on your tie…or your chest and the shirt. Down your blouse or onto the front of your dress or skirt. Now you’ve done it!! But you really want that delicious sauce flavor with the meatballs right? Let’s mix this up a bit…for a cocktail party…or any party..add the sauce TO the meatball mix, then make the meatballs and simply serve on a tray, platter or bowl with toothpicks. This recipe is made in two parts. first the sauce, then the meatballs. To start:
THE SAUCE (which becomes one of the ingredients in the meatballs)
1 28oz Can SAN MARZANO DOP Tomatoes, or any good variety of Imported Italian Plums or Domestic Plum Tomatoes
2 TBS OLIVE OIL
1 SMALL FINE DICED ONION
3 FRESH BASIL LEAVES
In a sauce pan heat the olive oil and then add the onion, season with salt and peperoncino. Let this cook until the onions are translucent and soft. TIP: if you get impatient the onions will never really soften in the tomato sauce and you’ll have crunchy onions in the mix. Be patient. Take your time. No rush. Once your onions are soft add the tomatoes which you will crush with your hands first in a bowl, then add them to the pot. Add one basil leaf and bring this to a boil, stir, then to a simmer and let this reduce for 1 hour, stirring frequently, until it’s reduced by about 1/2. Add the remaining 2 basil leaves, taste for seasoning and let it sit off the flame to cool completely. Should take about 2 hours.
MEATBALLS (makes about 30 ish)
3/4 lb GROUND CHUCK
1/4 lb GROUND VEAL
1/4 lb LOOSE SWEET ITALIAN SAUSAGE MEAT
1 JUMBO EGG, beaten
handful of chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup dry italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of the Sauce you made (that recipe above ^^^^)
3/4 cup freshly grated PECORINO ROMANO
2 FINELY (stressing the FINELY) MINCED GARLIC CLOVES
2 TBS OLIVE OIL
1/2 CUP ITALIAN WHITE WINE
In a large bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese, parsley, S & P, Sauce, Garlic together. Let this sit for 20 minutes. Why? we want the sauce to hydrate those breadcrumbs. Your Panada (write it down, it’s the Italian word for a breadcrumb/bread mix moistened with eggs, herbs, oil,liquids like milk or water, etc. which forms the binding for the meatballs. See, we are learning…I love teaching and sharing my food with you!!) Since there’s a significant amount of liquid in the sauce (which is why we reduced it) you want those breadcrumbs to suck up all that moisture which in turn doesn’t steal moisture from the meats and balances the end product…dry crumbs on their own suck moisture from the meat and other sources.
Blend all the meats together. Then add to the Panada after it’s sat for a while. If it’s still too loose, add more breadcrumbs, but only a little at a time. Mix gently with lightly moistened hands (lightly, or you’re adding more water to the balls). When fully mixed let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. NOW start rolling walnut sized meatballs and line them on a parchment or waxed paper lined tray. Chill for 10 minutes. In a heavy skillet add 2 tbs. olive oil and heat. Fry the meatballs for at least 5 minutes on each side without overcrowding. Fry in batches.. Add more Olive oil as needed letting the oil get hot before adding more balls in the pan. (why? the balls will soak in the oil..frying actually prevents that from happening). When finished frying all the meatballs, deglaze the pan with the White Wine and gently add the meatballs back and simmer until the wine has evaporated. Done. Now serve with toothpicks to hungry guests OR let them cool…wrap them in pans and you can reheat them on trays in the oven for serving at your event/ party/dinner. Meatballs and sauce all together No drip. No stains. No mess. It was great cooking with you…hope to come into your kitchens again real soon!!!