Meatballs! (and spaghetti)

20 08 2008

Upon our return from Bulgaria, we had meatballs on the brain.  (I wonder why…)  Luckily, Paris has everything I need to make some killer meatballs: fresh ground meat, breadcrumbs, etc.  A trip to the butcher was in order.  Once there, I immediately ordered a half-kilo of the fresh ground beef.  While I was waiting, I noticed a bowl full of ground pork (or was it veal?  or a mixture?) for stuffing tomatoes and the like.  Clearly, my meatballs were going to need some of that, too.  And all of a sudden I had a whole kilo of ground meat that needed to be turned into meatballs.  Oops.

But when has an overabundance of savory meatballs ever been a problem?

I set to work on a modified version of my world-famous meatloaf.  I’m not going to give away all my secrets, but here’s the gist of it.  Start your flavor base by sautéeing onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs (oregano and thyme) in olive oil.  Throw in some tomato paste and cook until it gets nice and roasty.  Splash in a little red wine, rosemary vinegar, and/or balsamic vinegar.  Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and let it cool a bit.  Dump the ground meat or meats into a large bowl.  Season pretty liberally with salt and pepper.  A couple dashes each of worcestershire and tabasco are almost always welcome.  Then scrape in the flavor base and crack an egg on top of it all.  Get in there with your hands and start mixing.

Who doesn't love the feel of ground beef between their fingers?

At this point, it’s really nice if you have someone in the house with you who has clean hands, so they can sprinkle in the bread crumbs while you keep mixing.  Be careful not to overmix the meat, just make sure everything is evenly incorporated.  And then start forming the meatballs.  Mine were probably an ounce or so – I didn’t measure them, it was just what fit easily in my palm so I could make two at once.  (A kilo makes a lot of meatballs.)  As they are formed, you can drop them right into a hot pan to begin browning.

Just getting started...

This was at the beginning of the process.  The last batch looked like this:

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