Wednesday, December 3
Meatballs. I love them- well, not just any meatballs, there are only a few people's whose I will eat. Part of that is the skeeve factor- I won't eat them in restaurants, houses where cats are allowed to roam the counters, or people who have questionable hygiene- nose pickers, ear pickers, people who rinse instead of use soap after using the bathroom. I'm not exactly a germophobe but since you make meatballs with your bare hands, you don't want to worry about the cleanliness of the chef. And I really hate picking hair out of my food. You get the idea.
I don't really have a preference as to the degree of softness of the meatballs. Mine tend to be a little crisp on the outside and soft inside.
My meatballs are delicious. I say that completely immodestly because even my fussy children stand next to me while I am cooking them to eat them right out of the pan, blowing on them so they don't burn their mouths. Plus my mom said they are good and to me, that's the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
So here is my recipe for meatballs.
One pound of ground triple meat mix (also called meatloaf mix- veal, pork and beef)
two cups of cubed bread (bakery section) OR stale Italian bread, coarsely ground in blender (not too fine)
1/2 to 3/4 cup of Locatelli cheese (if you don't have that, get a pecorino/romano blend, I'm serious, the secret is in the cheese) Do not, I repeat, DO NOT BUY THE CHEESE IN THE GREEN CAN- THIS IS NOT ACTUAL CHEESE! I highly recommend you try some Locatelli if you have not tasted it- you will never go back. You can order it here right from Philly. All you have to do is grate it.
2 cloves of fresh chopped garlic OR if you are desperate and cannot get fresh garlic, use about 6 teaspoons of garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
2 tablespoons of dried parsley
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1/2 half to 3/4 cups of water to moisten bread
1/4 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp of black pepper
olive oil for frying
Add the water to the cubed bread, slowly, and mix it together until the bread sticks into a ball. If you use too much water the bread won't form a ball. (If you are using bread crumbs instead of cubed bread, skip this step until later)
Mix the meat with the eggs. You have to use your hands, not utensils, it's just easier.
Add the garlic, parsley, cheese, basil, salt and pepper
Mix the meat well to blend everything.
Mix the wet bread mixture with the meat thoroughly.
**If you are using bread crumbs, mix them into the meat mixture and add the water to the mixture slowly. The meat should stick together. If it falls apart, you used too much water- add more bread)
Roll the meat into balls.
Heat the olive oil until fragrant. **If the oil is not hot when you place the meatballs in the pan, the bottom of the meatballs will stick to the pan and come apart. I learned this the hard way!
Place meatballs in frying pan, don't crowd them, they need their space, and cook until the meatball is brown and the outside is a little crispy. You'll need to repeat this step two or three times unless you want to use multiple frying pans.
Again, give "Lucatell" a try. If you can't find it in your grocery store (depends on where you live- I spent 6 years without it when I lived in Lancaster, PA!!) You can order a big wedge from DiBruno Brothers, located in Philly's Italian Market and have it shipped to you. You will not be sorry!
Postscript: Avid reader Joe Gabagool wrote me to say that under no circumstances should garlic powder be used in place of fresh garlic and that anyone who would use garlic powder has no business making meatballs. I disagree with this- if you're stuck, as I have been with ground meat in a bowl and oil heating when I realized the garlic was shriveled, garlic powder can substitute fine. And to prove it, when Joe Gabagool comes ovah for dinner in a few weeks, I'll make him try both kinds of meatballs. I'll even serve them in a cup.