Recipe: The Ultimate Goodfellas Meatball

Ah … the meatball!  Make no mistake, this staple of every Italian chef’s arsenal comes in many varietals.  You can go Mediterranean and make kofta … Danish folk make frikadeller … and my Indonesian friend introduced me to bakso way back in the day.

Why the history lesson?  The point is you can get pretty darn creative with these little hunks of meat.  While I’ve been known to try some really ridunculous things over the years, my go-to meatball recipe is pretty simple.  That said: it’s damn tasty!

So because of my recent trip to Patak – I was forced to make a rather large quantity of meatballs this past Friday.  Luckily, Laura was willing to suffer through an evening of my company … so I had some great help.  She picked out one hell of a cheese and I have consequently made it the cheese of choice in this concoction!  As they say in Goodfellas, you gotta have the pork! With that said, let’s get it on:

Ingredients
  • 1 lb of each: ground chuck, ground pork, & ground veal
  • Extra-Virgin olive oil (note: I had none on Friday, so we used Canola Oil)
  • 2 large diced onions (tip: how to dice an onion)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 ~ 1/2 c freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 c breadcrumbs [homemade bread crumbs work great]
  • a whole bunch of good grating cheese … I’d say at least 2 cups. [Laura’s selection: Piave]
  • at least 4 cloves of minced garlic [you can never have too much garlic]
  • 1 cup of liquid – water works great, stock will do as well.
  • salt
Production
  1. Cook your onions in a generous portion of oil and over a medium-high heat.  Add in some salt during this process and cook the onions until they have a translucent appearance.  Add in the garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool.
  2. In a bowl of ample size, combine the meat, eggs, parsley, bread crumbs, and cheese.  Add in your onions and some more salt, then begin to mix the meat.  Use your hands but make sure not to crush the mixture.  Your goal is to mix it.  Add in the water and continue to mix until the water is absorbed.  Now is a good time to test the mixture, you can use a small portion and cook it in a pan.  Taste it once done and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  3. Heat your oven to 350 degrees and proceed to shape your meatballs.  For this recipe, we went with meatballs that were approximately 1 3/4 – 2 inches in diameter.
  4. Bring your pan back up to temperature and coat with oil.  Add in the meatballs and brown them on all sides.  When finished, place the meatballs on an aluminum foil covered baking sheet.
  5. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of your meatballs).

That’s it!  This past evening, we made a homemade marinara sauce with a touch of bacon and onions.  However, I highly recommend you serve these over undressed pasta with extra cheese on top.  Spinach fettuccine works very well in that case.

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It’s important to realize that meatballs are a very flexible sort of thing.  You can fry them, bake them, steam them, and more!  Also, the meatballs in this recipe are great if followed to a T.  However, don’t be afraid to throw in some different spices.  Oregano, mustard, coriander, nutmeg, pepper flakes, saffron, and a slew of other spices can be effectively worked into this recipe.  Heck, you can even play with the meat mixture.  If you do so, just make sure you do not use an excessive amount of veal.  Veal is a leaner meat and you need a good amount of fat content to make a tasty meatball.

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