In Search of the Perfect Meatball Recipe

5:49 AM

Pasta and meatballs. Is there anything else in this world more comforting and satisfying for both tykes and adults? I dare say no. We have our fair share of weeknight pasta dishes. And without fail, pasta and meatballs will make an appearance in our dinner rotation at least once a month. We have our go-to recipe for sauce (or "gravy" as my in-laws from Eastie call it). Nothing fancy - garlic, onions, deglaze with red wine, crushed or diced tomatoes, oregano and season with S & P.

As for meatballs, sometimes I'll just shoot from the hip and toss some ingredients together. And other times, I will seek out a recipe, hoping it will become the family's meatball recipe. We've tried turkey, all-beef, beef/pork/veal combo, all-pork, baked, pan fried, braised. You name it.

Then I came across a recipe from the new Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? cookbook that included prosciutto and sausage inspired by Mario Batali. I was willing to give it a whirl (with some adjustments). And boy was I glad.

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?

1 1/2 cups bread cubes from rustic bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch dice
1/3 cup whole milk
1 pound ground beef
1/4 pound sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the bread is in medium crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and add the milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, sausage, prosciutto, bread mixture, pecorino romano, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Lightly combine the ingredients in your hands. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and the eggs, and stir lightly with a fork to combine.

4. With your hands, lightly roll the mixture into 2-inch-round meatballs and place them on the prepared sheet pan. Brush the meatballs with olive oil. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the tops are browned and the centers are completely cooked.

5. Serve with your favorite gravy (a.k.a. marinara sauce)

The Good: Great texture. Loved not having to roll them around in a frying pan. Super meaty flavor.

The Bad: A tad bit more effort (removal of sausage casings. preparing bread crumbs). Ingredients  overpowered the prosciutto.

Grade: B+. Definitely will be making these again. Will try making them with a different cheese (Asagio?). Maybe switch to a lean bacon.

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