Sunday Kitchen: Meatballs

More often than not, I spend the biggest part of my Sunday in the kitchen. Usually I make something, or a couple somethings, that we’ll have on hand to eat throughout the following week. It occurred to me that some of the cooks might make interesting blog posts. So here is the first of what might become a quasi-regular feature.

This week’s project was homemade meatballs from the Frankies Spuntino cookbook. It’s kind of a no-brainer of a recipe. You make it all in one bowl and just keep chucking in ingredients. But it’s a bit time-consuming because I find that, for the best results, you need to mix each ingredient in before adding the next. The upside is that one batch makes quite a lot of meatballs, so you get a lot of yield for the time spent. I use however many we need for whatever meal(s) we’re making and freeze the rest in vacuum sealed bags, two meatballs per pack. Then we can thaw as many or as few as we need for future meals.

Start with six slices of bread. Use a fairly good quality bread; not exactly fancy, and certainly nothing expensive, but also not Sunbeam or Wonder. Get something from the deli section in your grocery store and slice it yourself. (The Frankies cut off the crusts, but I don’t usually bother.)

Anyway, take six slices of bread and put them in a large mixing bowl. Fill the bowl with enough water to cover the bread, and let it get completely soggy. The book says “for a minute or so,” but in my experience the bread is soggy pretty much instantly when you run the water on it. Regardless, when it’s soggy, pour the water out and squeeze out as much water as you can, then tear the wet bread into tiny pieces.

Add in 2 pounds of ground beef and knead the bread into it until it’s evenly dispersed.

Next, work in 3 cloves minced garlic and 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped.

Then comes 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup raisins (weird, I know, but trust the Frankies).

Now add 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt or Morton’s kosher salt, about 15 turns of freshly ground white pepper, and 1/4 cup pine nuts (again, keep the faith).

Finally, add 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs and 4 large eggs.

Work it really good. Initially it will seem way too wet, but as you keep kneading it all together the eggs will become more and more incorporated. If it is still too wet to work with, add a bit more of the bread crumbs and keep kneading. The mixture should be wet, but not sloppy.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Roll the mixture into palm-sized balls, give or take, and place them on a baking sheet. (I’ve never needed to grease or oil the pan.)

Bake for about 30 minutes. They should be firm, but have a little give. You know, like a meatball.

Now they’re ready. Simmer some in tomato sauce, make a meatball parm sandwich, or whatever. When they’re cooled, you can refrigerate them for a day or two, or as I mentioned, freeze them for later.

***

What I did with mine on Sunday was slice up a couple of them and make a pizza:

One no-knead pizza dough from Jim Lahey’s book, My Bread.

One 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, one teaspoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt, pulsed in a mini-chopper to a coarse puree, and spread evenly over the dough.

A 50/50 blend of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. This time I didn’t even grate them myself; I just bought the prepackaged shredded stuff.

A healthy (or unhealthy, depending on how you look at it) dose of pepperoni.

And a couple of the aforementioned meatballs.

Threw together a green salad while the pizza baked at 500° F for a little over 15 minutes, and voila!

That’s dinner!

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