Chef Alan's Meatballs
Last night my husband made the most amazing meatballs and spaghetti. The meatballs were soft, airy and full of flavor. I knew I had to share it with my readers. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!
1 large onion, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves
2 lbs ground pork, beef, veal
2 large eggs
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano
1 ½ unseasoned fresh bread crumbs
¼ cup fresh Italian Parsley
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
There is nothing better than a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs on a Sunday night for family dinner. I have always loved making meatballs, but could never get the perfect results. The meatballs were either oddly shaped, tasted bland, or came out way too dense. After years of playing, I have finally figured out all the tricks to make nice round, fluffy, juicy meatballs.
Let’s start with the food prep. I think prepping and cleaning up are the worst parts of cooking. If I could hire a sous chef I would cook every night! Any time you can prep ahead I promise you will love cooking even more. Try and find some time earlier in the day to cut your onion into chunks, peel your garlic and put them in saran wrap. You can also chop up the parsley ahead of time. As for the breadcrumbs, the best thing is day old fresh Italian bread. If you do not have that handy, consider toasting some white bread and leaving it out to cool down. You can then throw the bread into either a food processor or blender and make your own fresh bread crumbs. Fresh bread crumbs are a must as the store-bought containers are filled with additives and dry out the meatball. I also suggest grating your own cheese, but a high-end supermarket should have a combo of the two different kinds of cheeses already grated for you.
Now it’s time to combine and cook. Set the oven to 350°F, grab a glass of wine and enjoy! Since you prepped ahead, most of the work was already done earlier in the day making this a stress free and fun cooking time. In a food processor or good blender, combine the onion, garlic, and 1 cup water. Purée until very smooth. Next, in a large mixing bowl combine the meat, eggs, cheeses, bread crumbs, parsley, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Add the onion purée and, with your hands, mix until just combined. Do not overwork or you will create a dense meatball. That’s it, you’re done! At this time, I suggest you form 1 small meatball and fry, just to taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.
Before you form the meatballs to cook, wet your hands so the meat does not stick. Form the meat mixture into any size meatball you desire. Now, this is where so many different preferences come in. For years, I would fry the meatballs in a pan of olive oil trying to get that perfect crust, but this is where the shape would get lost. So, if you want the perfect round moist meatball, place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, get them close to the top of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. From here they can go right into a homemade or store bought red sauce and simmered for another 20-30 minutes. Serve over fresh pasta with a dollop of ricotta and you will be in meatball heaven. Mangia!
Recipe courtesy of Alan Lipton