After being fed up with upscale restaurants and more recently, NYC street-food vendors not making a good enough—by that I mean, acceptable to the standards of real Italian cooking which is rare in the United States—meatball, I am going to share my recipe in hopes that we can raise the bar for Italian-American cooking. And beyond that, here is a great guide on different cooking methods for all types of meatballs.
1 1/2 lbs. mix of freshly ground beef, pork, and veal (supermarket will do; salumeria is better)
2 large eggs
4 heads—yes, heads—of garlic, finely diced or pressed (you can use less, but more is the Italian way)
1 cup breadcrumbs (I use Panko or sometimes even crush All-Bran cereal to boost fiber), but any will do. Homemade BCs, if you have the time to make them and the skill to mince them properly, are better)
1 white onion (on the smaller side, or half of a large one), finely diced
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 packet of onion soup mix
2 T olive oil, divided
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 T salt (I use course sea salt, a personal preference that will ruin the flavor for sensitive taste buds)
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
1.) Coat a saute pan with 1T olive oil, heat it to medium heat, and add the garlic, onions, and peppers to give them a pre-cook for 5 or so minutes. Add the crushed red pepper for the last minute.
2.) In the meantime, combine the meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, onion soup mix, parsley, salt, black pepper, water, and Parmigianno-Reggiano (if wanted) in a bowl. Mix with hands.
3.) Once the garlic/onion/pepper mix is done, remove from heat and add to the meat mixture.
4.) Now it’s time to form your balls! I doubt this needs much instruction. Just think of Play-dough back in the day. Tear mini pieces off and roll in your hands until you’ve finished off the meaty mixture.
5.) Add the other 1T of olive oil to the saute pan on medium-high heat, and cook as many as you can fit in the pan at a time. Turn frequently, and remove when they are slightly brown on all sides.
Serve them solo, perhaps as hors d’oeuvres with a side sauce of your choosing, serve over pasta, freeze for later…up to you. Delish.