After yesterday’s Murray’s chicken debacle, I needed succulent, delicious protein to clear my taste-memory of the rubbery poultry patties. A big batch of meatballs was medically necessary, lest I fall into weeks of nightmares populated by bad faux-burgers. So I rustled up some ground pork, ground beef, and ground veal and set out to right the previous day’s culinary wrongs.
This recipe was inspired by herbed meatballs in the Chez Panisse Cafe cookbook, with a few changes (the original recipe is all-beef).
- 1.5 lbs equal parts ground pork, ground beef, and ground veal
- 1/2 cup very finely minced yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, run through a press
- 1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated with a microplane
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 T flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, finely minced
- 1/4 tsp lemon zest, finely grated (powdered, dried lemon zest is fine)
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (whirl a few slices bread in the food processor)
- 2 T olive oil
- 3-4 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
In a large bowl, combine ground meats, yellow onion, garlic, grated cheese, red pepper flakes, parsley, lemon zest, and oregano. Using your hands, gently mix until seasonings are evenly distributed. Break the egg into the bowl and sprinkle bread crumbs atop the egg. Again using your hands, mix in the egg and breadcrumbs. Do not overwork the mixture. Form into spheres slightly larger than golf balls. (Smaller meatballs tend to disintegrate; larger ones require additional cooking time submerged in the tomato sauce.)
In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil until it shimmers. Carefully add meatballs and cook, turning, until browned. Remove from the skillet to a plate. In a deep pot, heat tomato sauce; once it begins to bubble, add browned meatballs. Cook meatballs and sauce, covered, until done through: 35-45 minutes. Timing will depend on the size of the meatballs.
Serve over spaghetti, or use meatballs and sauce to fill your favorite hoagie rolls or Italian bread.