Sunday, February 21, 2010
Must-eat Italian meatballs.
I hate to be one to tell you what or how to eat. This space is more of a show-and-tell of what I like to eat, and if you want to follow suit, then kudos. I'll even post a recipe here and there, but don't take them too seriously, because I'd hate to be held responsible for a meal gone horribly wrong.
But can I tell you something, just this once, that I really think you should consider? Please make these meatballs.
Do what you want with them once they're all browned and saucy -- throw them into a sandwich, or toss them with spaghetti, or eat them straight out of the pot before dinner is even served -- just make them already.
This was my first batch of homemade meatballs ever. I'm more of a frozen meatball kind of girl, because getting my hands all beefy and taking the time to roll them out just seemed a bit much for me.
Even after my first batch stuck to the pan and disaster was peering its ugly head around the corner with every piping hot splatter of oil to hit my skin (one in my eye, I kid you not), it all became so worth it with the very first bite. Suddenly, I had forgotten about what I had said to Murdo just half an hour earlier ("Wow, this is really a pain in the ass!") and all I could think about was how I could bring more meatballs into my everyday life. Images of my freezer packed with the things filled my head. I must have more meatballs.
Thank goodness this recipe makes a butt load. Although it's supposed to yield 16 meatballs with a 2-inch diameter, I just couldn't bring myself to make meatballs that large, so I ended up with 20. And for me, they were perfectly sized.
The key to making these, which The New York Times failed to inform me, is a nonstick pot. Fortunately, the browned meat that had stuck to the bottom of the first pot made for some flavorful bits when I used said pot to heat the tomato sauce. For the second and third batches, I used a deep nonstick skillet. The results were glorious: Browned on the outside, soft on the inside, sturdy yet tender, moist, flavorful, savory, rich.
We made our meatballs into sandwiches, which, being the delicious sandwich maker that he is, Murdo lovingly assembled. I ate mine hovered over the coffee table on my knees, groaning a little bit every now and then, tomato sauce dripping around my mouth and sheets upon sheets of paper towel quickly getting soiled. It was good stuff. I can't wait to eat more.
Italian Meatballs (adapted from The New York Times)
Use a deep nonstick skillet or pot, and be careful not to overcrowd the meatballs. I had 8 in my first batch, which was crowded even for smaller meatballs, but 6 each in the last two batches were just right. I also used tongs to flip them, and be careful to keep your distance -- splattered oil hurts.
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (about 4 slices of white bread, crusts removed)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 (24 ounce) jars of your favorite tomato sauce
In a large bowl, lightly mix all ingredients, except olive oil and tomato sauce, by hand. Take a portion of meat in hand and roll between palms to form a ball that is firmly packed but not compressed. Repeat, making each meatball about 1 1/2 (makes 20) or 2 (makes 16) inches in diameter.
In a large, nonstick pot or deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough (I threw in a few breadcrumbs and if they sizzled, decided it was hot enough), add meatballs in batches. Do not crowd, and resist the urge to flip them early or move them around. Brown well on bottoms before turning, or meatballs will break apart. Continue cooking until browned on all sides. Remove meatballs to a plate as each batch is finished.
Meanwhile, heat tomato sauce in a large pot over medium heat. When the meatballs are finished, place them in the sauce so that they are covered completely. Cover and simmer for an hour or so, or until you just can't take it anymore and must devour.