are the little black dresses of the culinary world.
can dress them up for dinner with a velvet robe of sour
cream and wild mushroom gravy. They can be daytime simple
with a jacket of roasted tomato marinara, trimmed with fresh
asiago cheese, and tucked into a crusty roll. Or they can be
cocktail party sweet-and-spicy, glistening with a glaze of
pineapple juice, sriracha sauce and sugar.
also are comparatively inexpensive; can be made ahead then
sauced later; require little attention once prepared; often
can be retrofitted on Day Two for a second go-round; and
perform as well at a family dinner, a Sunday tailgate with
friends, or a flavors-of-the-world themed get-together. For
all this and perhaps more, the ubiquitous meatball is, well,
they’re trendy, too.
the nation’s leading food research and consulting firms,
Chicago-based Technomic, describes meatballs as a 2016 food
trend that’s part of a national movement involving the
"elevation of peasant fare" to new heights.
"Meatballs … are proliferating — traditional,
ethnic or nouveau." Technomic opines.
no surprise to Brian Borres, general manager of Emporio: A
Meatball Joint. Emporio is part of the Sienna Restaurant
Group and it has two locations (although that’s about to
change). One anchors a three-level enterprise in a
first-floor location in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. It
opened in 2014. The second location is at the Village at
Pine in the North Hills. It will mark its one-year
anniversary in November.
said the restaurant’s recipe for success features heavy
portions of creativity, comfort and cost-consciousness.
are a comfort food. They make you think of Grandma’s
house," he said. At the same time, Borres postulated
that executive chef and managing partner Matt Porco adds his
"distinct and different" brand of creativity to
produce meatball bowls such as a "tater tot"
poutine topped with mushroom gravy, a fried egg, bacon and
pork meatball. It’s Borres’ favorite dish, he confessed,
referring to it as "the breakfast bowl." And it
costs about $11. "Over a pound of food that is
absolutely to die for. That’s a great value," he
affordability of meatballs makes them the perfect vehicle to
introduce family and friends to a new ethnic flavor profile.
fashioned of pork, beef, chicken or no meat at all (as in
mushrooms/lentils/cheese), the essential meatball
ingredients are comparatively inexpensive. That allows for
the spending of a little more dough on some of the spices
that are needed to round out a recipe for the likes of
Albondigas En Salsa De Limon. Translated, it’s meatballs
in lemon sauce. The sauce requires a pinch of pricey saffron
delicious overture into Spanish cuisine, this pork and veal
meatball is cooked in a richly viscous egg
yolk/lemon/saffron sauce enhanced with mushrooms. The recipe
for Albondigas En Salsa De Limon is featured in Penelope
Casas’ "One Pot Spanish" tome, published in 2009
by Madison Press Books. Lemon, both in the meatballs and the
sauce, makes a nice taste counterpoint to the delicious
velvet of fat in the meat and egg yolk. Casa suggests a
sidecar of boiled new potatoes. Rice also would do well
especially if the sauce ingredients were doubled and the
meatballs were situated atop of the rice.
of pan-Asian is an exceptionally simple and yummy recipe for
cocktail meatballs in the recently published "Ultimate
Appetizer Ideabook, 225 Simple, All-Occasion Recipes"
by Kiera and Cole Stipovich from Chronicle Books. The recipe
pairs a delicate ground lamb ball with a spicy-sweet glaze
of chili-pepper jelly that can be made for pennies in about
10 minutes. They are like potato chips: You can’t eat just
hard to think of meatballs without thinking of tomato sauce.
A 2015 publication by the editors of Saveur, entitled "Saveur
Italian Comfort Food," offers a spin on the pairing
that calls for a very spicy meatball cooked in an unusually
simple and spice-free red sauce. Called "Classic
Meatballs," they feature ricotta, pork fat and
prosciutto with a half-dozen spices, all adding up to a dish
that need not sit atop pasta to stand as an entree.
meatballs are more involved than the meatballs I make to
serve with my spaghetti. And a couple of ingredients
required special effort (my butcher had to trim a slab of
pork fat for me), but they are worth the extra effort if you
want to dial up Italian Night a notch.
veal in this recipe with ground pork and pork fat instead of
unsmoked bacon. I also bumped up the heat with a few extra
chili flakes. I like my tomato sauce a bit more flavored: I
added a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt.
ounces ground veal
ounces ground pork shoulder
ounces finely chopped pork fat or unsmoked bacon
ounces prosciutto, finely chopped
cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely
chopped, plus more to garnish
teaspoons dried oregano
teaspoons fennel seeds
teaspoon chili flakes
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon ground allspice
slices white bread, finely ground in a food processor
salt (divided) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
cup ricotta, drained in a sieve for two hours
eggs, lightly beaten
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
cup red wine
canned tomato puree
beef or veal stock
Parmigiano-Reggiano to garnish
all meats, herbs, spices, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a
large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together
ricotta, milk and eggs then add to meat mixture, gently.
Chill for an hour.
oven to 300 degrees. Grease two rimmed baking sheets with
oil and set aside. Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (I just
used my hands), portion mixture and roll into balls.
Transfer to baking sheets.
tablespoons oil in high-sided, 3-quart (ovenproof) skillet
over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs; cook, turning
occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes.
meatballs to a plate and wipe out skillet. Repeat with
remaining oil and meatballs.
reserved meatballs to skillet along with any juices from the
plate. Add wine, increase heat to high, and cook for two
in tomato puree, stock, sugar and salt, bring to a boil and
tightly cover skillet.
to oven and bake until meatballs are tender and have
absorbed some sauce, about 1 1/2 hours.
serve, transfer meatballs to a platter and spoon sauce over.
Sprinkle with Parmigiano and parsley.
Adapted from "Saveur Italian Comfort Food" by the
Editors of Saveur .(Weldon Owen Inc.; 2015)
EN SALSA DE LIMON (MEATBALLS IN LEMON SAUCE)
tender meaty mushrooms in the thick and glossy sauce is just
delicious. I’d use it on rice even sans meatball!
tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
pound ground veal
pound ground pork
tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
tablespoons minced parsley
tablespoons finely chopped prosciutto
tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves or ¾ teaspoon dried
cloves garlic, minced
teaspoons kosher or sea salt
teaspoon freshly ground pepper
flour for dusting
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
cup finely chopped Mayan onion
cup chicken broth
tablespoons dry white wine
tablespoons minced parsley
clove garlic, minced
of crumbled saffron threads
or sea salt
ounces mushrooms, brushed clean, stems trimmed, and caps
halved or quartered
tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
broth or water, as needed
prepare meatballs, combine breadcrumbs with milk in a large
bowl. Gently mix in ground veal and pork, eggs, lemon juice,
parsley, prosciutto, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Shape
into 1/2-inch meatballs and dust with flour.
prepare sauce, heat oil in a shallow flameproof casserole
over medium-high heat, and saute meatballs until brown on
all sides. Add onion and saute until softened. Stir in broth
and wine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer
for 40 minutes.
tablespoons parsley, garlic, saffron and a pinch of salt to
a paste in a mortar, or process in a mini food processor
until finely minced.
meatballs to a warm plate and keep warm. Strain sauce
through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids with the back
of a metal soup ladle to extract as much liquid as possible.
Return sauce to the casserole and add mushrooms, mortar
mixture and lemon juice.
egg yolks with a little hot sauce from the casserole in a
small bowl, then add back to the casserole. Cook over low
heat, stirring constantly until thickened (do not boil). If
the sauce seems too thick, add a little broth or water.
(Mine needed no additional liquid.) Return meatballs to the
sauce and simmer for 1 minute. Serve straight from the
casserole, sprinkled with remaining parsley.
From "One Pot Spanish" by Penelope Casas (Sellers
JELLY-GLAZED LAMB MEATBALLS
little gems are like potato chips; you can’t stop with
one. I doubled the sauce recipe because I found it to be so
deliciously spicy yet sweet.
pound ground lamb
tablespoons minced onion
tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
cup fresh breadcrumbs
clove garlic, minced
tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
teaspoon smoked paprika
teaspoon kosher salt
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
lightly beaten egg
all ingredients lightly, except egg. When combined, add egg
and mix again. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on baking
sheet, lined with parchment paper or foil. Cover with
plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
oven to 350 degrees. Bake meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes or
until internal temperature is 165 degrees. Immediately add
cooked meatballs to 1/2 recipe Chili-Pepper Jelly Glaze in a
saucepan (I made a full recipe and used it all) and simmer
uncovered over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring gently
as needed until the meatballs are nicely glazed.
tablespoons pepper jelly
teaspoons olive oil
teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
teaspoon chili powder
teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
medium saucepan over low heat, combine all the ingredients.
Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally,
for 10 minutes or until the flavors have blended. Use right
away or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five
From "The UltimateAppetizer Ideabook" by Kiera and
Cole Stipovich (Chronicle Books; 2016; $19.95)