Sunday, September 9, 2012

Now That’s a Spicy Meatball!

Meatballs are one of those comfort foods that have lately resurfaced as a NYC foodie trend. But as with meatloaf, there is no earthly reason you should go to a restaurant and pay a 900% markup on something that is incredibly simple and quick to make with cheap ingredients at home.

I recently made a big batch of marinara sauce and a big batch of meatballs and froze both so as to have weeknight meals ready to go. The marinara, I decanted into plastic containers. And for the meatballs, I did this genius trick nicked from Everyday Food: Line a baking sheet with wax paper, form the balls and put them on the sheet like you were making cookies (pictured); freeze the cookie sheet; and once the balls are frozen, roll up the wax paper and stick it in a Ziploc bag. This way they retain their shape in the freezer—and they can be put directly into the oven without any prior thawing.

You can use ground beef, pork, or lamb for meatballs, but this time I had actually bought a pound of ground dark-meat turkey from the DiPaola farmstand at the Prospect Park greenmarket, where I usually just troll for free samples (the dark is actually cheaper than the ground white-meat turkey, which makes absolutely no sense to me because it’s more flavorful). Start by dumping this into a mixing bowl. I pureed a roughly chopped medium-ish onion and a ton of garlic, plus somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of the marinara, in the food processor, then added it to the meat along with 2 eggs and about 1 cup of breadcrumbs (both these help bind the meat so it holds its shape), a generous sprinkling of kosher salt, and a hit of hot sauce. You can also add some grated Parmesan, I think I actually meant to do this and forgot.

From there I just kneaded the mixture together with my hands (don’t be squeamish! This is necessary for getting the right consistency!) and put a few balls into a 400° oven before, again, freezing the rest on a baking sheet. They take just about 10 minutes to cook (maybe a little longer if they’re frozen), and are delicious accompanied with red sauce and pasta or just on their own. Fine, so maybe they’re not QUITE as delicious as the duck ones at Locanda Verde…but making them is a lot cheaper and easier than getting a reservation there!

P.S. After titling this post, I actually had to Google the phrase because I couldn’t recall how it entered popular culture parlance. Turns out it originated in a vintage Alka-Seltzer commercial…but please don’t let that deter you from trying this recipe.

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