Friday, January 21, 2011

I-ah like-ah the spah-icy meat-a-ball-ah!

If only my friend Jason could read the title of this posting for you, it would make more sense. Say it out loud with a ridiculous Italian accent. Channel your inner Tony Shaloub as Primo in Big Night and you've got it!

I made these meatballs last weekend and they came out light and tasty. My sister gave me a spice mix from Spain that is meant for salads, but had lovely lemony coriander so I added a teaspoon to the mix.

1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Herbes per Amanides or dried coriander
3 eggs, beaten
1 lb ground beef or turkey (I prefer local, organic and grass-fed!)
2 Tbsp chopped red onion
2 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup dry red wine to deglaze the pan

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add parsley, onion, salt and pepper. Combine dried herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs in a separate bowl and set aside. Add beef to egg mixture begin to mix with your hands. Add breadcrumb mixture and gently combine until just mixed. Do not over squeeze or work the meat.
Scoop 1 Tbsp of meat into your palms and roll gently to form a ball. Place on a sheet pan and repeat until all of the meat is rolled.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Place meatballs in pan without crowding, turning often to brown each side, until fully cooked. Place them on a separate sheet pan in a warm oven. Repeat until all meatballs are cooked through. Deglaze the meatball pan with wine and reduce by 1/2. Scrape up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and reserve.
Simple Tomato Sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped*
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 12 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp evoo
pinch of red chile flakes
salt, fresh ground pepper

Saute onions and fennel together with a pinch of salt over medium heat until translucent. Do not brown. Add garlic and chili flakes, stir for 1 minute until fragrant. Add tomatoes, stir and bring to a lively simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes or longer for a thicker sauce. Add reserved wine, add meatballs and cook until they're warmed through. Enjoy over pasta or on garlic bread with melted cheese!

* I happened to have fresh fennel, but if you're not a fan, substitute a stalk of celery and a carrot. This would be a mirepoix (FR) or soffritto (IT).

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