Making The Perfect Meatball | WYPR

Making The Perfect Meatball

Oct 15, 2019

A few weeks ago we were looking for something different in the protein department for dinner, and my girlfriend Vickie suggested we make some meatballs. So I bought the fixings and made them up, and they were pretty good, but Chef Jerry Pellegrino tells me could have done better.

The biggest favor you can do yourself is to buy a meat grinder, and grind you own combination of beef chuck roast, brisket, pork shoulder, bacon and breast of veal; one pound of each will do nicely. 

Bread crumbs, and a lot of them, are necessary to absorb the huge amount of liquid the meat will produce.  Parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder round out the seasonings.  Work in three cups of ricotta, a cup of grated parmesan and 8 whole eggs.

Roll the ground meat into meatballs that are 2" in diameter, place on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes at 425°.

Alternatively, you can simmer your meatballs in broth until cooked, and then sauté them in a skillet to put a sear on them.

If you're making meatballs for an Italian recipe or a "Sweedish" recipe, you'll want to further simmer those meatballs in the relevant sauce.

Here are some meatball recipe ideas from Jerry's cooking school, Schola.

The Classic Ball

Ingredients

1 lb. beef chuck

1 lb. beef brisket

2.5 lbs pork shoulder

1.5 lbs pork belly

2 lbs veal breast

1 Cup Bread Crumbs

1 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

¼ cup fresh oregano, cleaned and roughly chopped

3 Tablespoons salt

1 Tablespoon ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons garlic powder

3 cups ricotta

1 cup grated parmesan

8 eggs

Cube all the meat and bread into 1 inch cubes. Mix with the parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Run through a grinder with the small dye. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Form into 2 ounce meatballs. Roast on a sheet pan in a 425°F oven for 17 minutes. Makes 96 meatballs.

Spicy Pork Meatball

Ingredients

4 lbs pork shoulder

3 lbs pork belly

1 lb apple wood smoked bacon

1 Cup Bread Crumbs

1 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

8 pickled hot red chili peppers, seeds removed & roughly chopped

1 cup chili pepper pickling liquid

4 Tablespoons salt

2 red chili pepper flakes

10 eggs

Cube all the pork and bread into 1 inch cubes. Mix with the parsley, cilantro, salt, red pepper flakes and cherry peppers. Run through a grinder with the small dye. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Form into 2 ounce meatballs. Roast on a sheet pan in a 425°F oven for 17 minutes. Makes 96 meatballs.

Veggie Meatballs (Lentil Based - vegetarian)

Ingredients

6 cups red lentils, rinsed

2 quarts vegetable stock or water

¼ cup Tablespoons olive oil

1½ cup finely chopped onions

1½ cup finely chopped carrot

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons salt

½ cup tomato paste

1½ lbs button mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 Tablespoon dried herbs de Provence

9 eggs

1½ cup grated parmesan

1½ cup bread crumbs

1 cup flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped

Combine the lentils and stock in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the lentils are just tender, approximately 30 minutes. Drain and let cool on a sheet tray.

In a sauté pan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot and herbs de Provence. Cook until just starting to caramelize. Add the mushrooms and salt and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the tomato paste and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Allow the vegetables to cool on a sheet tray.

Take 2 cups of the lentil and purée in a food processor. Combine the puréed lentils, cooked lentils, vegetable mix, eggs, par, bread crumbs and parsley and mix until well combined. Form into 2 ounce balls. Makes approximately 70 balls.

Herbed Chicken Meatballs (gluten free)

Ingredients

3 lbs boneless, skinless Chicken breast

4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 lb Block mozzarella

1 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped

1 cup fresh chives, roughly chopped

½ cup fresh oregano, roughly chopped

½ cup fresh tarragon, roughly chopped

1 Tablespoon celery seed

1 Tablespoon fennel seed

1 cup dry white wine

¼ cup salt

2 Tablespoons fresh ground black pepper

8 eggs

1 cup grated parmesan

Cube the chicken and mozzarella into 1 inch cubes. Mix with the Fresh herbs, celery seed, fennel seed, white wine, salt and pepper. Run through a grinder with the small dye. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Form into 2 ounce meatballs. Roast on a sheet pan in a 425°F oven for 17 minutes. Makes 96 meatballs.

-Al Spoler