Thursday, December 7, 2006
The first time I ever had real Italian meatballs I was in college. One of my new roomates was from an Italian family (VERY exotic to white bread me-her grandmother spoke no English!), and she could cook like no one I ever knew. It was my first exposure to real garlic, to a block of Parmesan cheese (instead of a can), and fresh parsley. I was determined to learn how to cook this dish. But she was an instinctive cook- she never followed a recipe that I knew of, so I had to learn by watching her.
I have spent many years trying to replicate those first meatballs I ever experienced, and have finally gotten the proportions and ingredients right. Now that the temperature has gotten near freezing, it is a perfect time to make meatballs.
Take 1/2 pound of ground beef (best if it has SOME fat) and 1/2 pound of ground pork and put in large bowl (sometimes I use the beef, pork and veal mixture you can buy in some grocery stores).
Mince one small red onion and two garlic cloves and throw in bowl on top of meat. Chop 1/4 cup of Italian parsley and put it in. Next add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese (shredded, not grated), salt and pepper to taste, and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (plain). Mix this with your hands a bit, and then add 1 beaten egg. Mix to break up big chunks, etc., but don't mix too much (and never, EVER use Cuisinart's suggestion of using the food processor to mix your meat- blech!) Adjust the texture by adding more breadcrumbs if needed. Make big meatballs- the size of racquetballs- and bake at 375 until done (about 25-30 minutes)-make sure you use a pan with an edge or you will set the oven on fire!
This recipe makes a small batch (8) because it's just the two of us and my husband doesn't like leftovers (what's wrong with him???), but you can double it if you like. That's what I did today so I can freeze some for a quick dinner later this month.
I love these with sauce and penne and a salad, and tonight we're also having no knead bread.
I almost tried using panko instead of the store bought breadcrumbs I usually use, but I chickened out!