Project Wonderful

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sicilian Style Meatballs

I'm not going to say that this is my Grandmother's recipe. She was old-school Italian and either had an encyclopedia of Italian culinary knowledge in her head or just made it up on her own. I don't know. But her food always came out amazing. So while this recipe isn't exactly hers, it's one that she would have definitely approved of.

Using pine nuts in the meatballs is apparently a Sicilian variation, although Francis Ford Coppola's mother says its Neapolitan. Wherever it came from, its a great addition to the mix and makes the meatballs really stand out as something special. Especially since pine nuts are ridiculously overpriced.

This recipe makes about 18 golf ball-sized meatballs.

1 lb lean ground beef (85% is good)
1 cup plain bread crumbs (you should make these yourself, but store bought will work in a pinch)
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tbs onion powder
2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped fine (or 2 tsp dried)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1tsp pre-minced from a jar)
1 tbs fresh oregano (or 1tsp dried)
2 tbs pine nuts - lightly toasted
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbs grated Romano cheese (fresh is best, dried if you must)


Soak breadcrumbs in milk aprox 15 min.

Mix everything together in a big bowl. 

Roll into golf ball-sized balls. Not too firm and not too loose. Too loose and they fall apart in the sauce. Too firm and they come out tough. 

Refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 24 hours. 

When ready, heat some (1 tablespoon) olive oil in a large cast iron pan on medium high heat until it shimmers. 

Place the balls into the pan. Turn occasionally to brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Don't over-crowd em; You'll have to do this in batches. 

Transfer meatballs to a plate with paper towel.

When all the meatballs are drained, transfer to your spaghetti sauce or serve em just the way they are.

Good meatballs begins with good bread. Cut it into cubes and run it through a food processor, then toast them on a baking sheet. 

Here's a trick to help blend fresh ingredients: chop the oregano and garlic together with the salt. 

This mixes everything together and the coarse salt helps to reduce the ingredients even finer. 

Kinda pretty like this. Right up to the point when we mash it all together with our hands in an carnival of meat-squishing bliss. 

Look at my balls. Seriously. Just look at those delicious balls!

Brown them on all sides about 10 minutes and place them on a paper towel to dry 
and you are all set.

From here, the meatballs are ready to go into the spaghetti sauce. And for a great sauce, I recommend my take on Clemenza's sauce from "The Godfather." 


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