our version:refried beans with chorizo, which I never posted but still might. Second was the vegetarian chili that saved the writer Suketu Mehta's life. Which brings us to number three, Dana Bowen's greatest meal: classic meatballs.
So, with all of my burgeoning neurotic tendencies, I completed all directives only to come to the last one: Ignore all above directions. Needless to say, it was a tough lesson. Yet one that didn’t stick with me.
See, as previously mentioned, this meal was for Matt, and Matt requested an early “Meatball Sunday!” dinner. I told him no problem. Let's skip lunch and eat at four. Only, I must have skimmed over the part about chilling the meat mixture for an hour. "Dinner at five?" Then, when I came to mixing in the ricotta, I saw what else I skipped over: 2⁄3 cup ricotta, drained in a strainer for two hours. Needless to say, my ricotta was drained for exactly four minutes, and by drained, I mean, set upon a mesh strainer for four minutes without releasing a single drop of liquid.
I don't think that all meatball recipes call for braising them in red sauce, but I think they probably should. After all the hard work of gathering, chopping, mixing and molding the ingredients into the shape of large golf balls and browning these in hot olive oil, it was a relief to add some red wine, tomato puree, and beef broth and allow yourself to forget about them for an hour and a half. Of course, you can't really forget about them because your entire apartment now smells like delicious meat and marinara sauce.
Plus, I had promised him meatballs at four, and their ETA was now looking to be about six.
After some clean-up, we ate at six thirty. Not so bad? Right in time for the previously recorded episode of Kourtney and Kim Take New York. What? It’s hilarious and I just couldn’t watch one more documentary featuring that old guy from AIG. Anyway, I'm pleased to report that the homemade meatballs were utterly spectacular and even better the second day.
Classic Meatballs via Saveur
10 oz. ground beef chuck or veal
10 oz. ground pork shoulder
2 oz. minced pork fat or unsmoked bacon
2 oz. prosciutto, minced
1 1⁄4 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced, plus more for garnish
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1⁄2 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄4 tsp. ground allspice
7 slices white bread, finely ground in a food processor
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2⁄3 cup ricotta, drained in a strainer for 2 hours
2 tbsp. milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus
more for greasing
1⁄4 cup dry red wine
4 cups canned tomato purée
1 cup beef or veal stock or water
Grated Parmesan, for garnish
1. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, pork fat, prosciutto, parsley, oregano, fennel seeds, chile flakes, cumin, allspice, and bread crumbs and season generously with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, mix ingredients until combined; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together ricotta, milk, and eggs; add to meat mixture and gently mix until incorporated. Chill for 1 hour.
2. Heat oven to 300°. Grease 2 rimmed baking sheets with oil and set aside. Using a 2-oz. ice cream scoop, portion mixture, roll into meatballs with your hands, and transfer to greased baking sheets. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a 3-qt. high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs; cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate; wipe out skillet. Repeat with remaining oil and meatballs. Return reserved meatballs to skillet along with any juices from the plate. Add wine; increase heat to high and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and beef stock, bring to a boil, and tightly cover skillet. Transfer to oven; bake until meatballs are tender and have absorbed some of the sauce, about 1 1⁄2 hours. To serve, transfer meatballs to a platter; spoon over sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan and parsley. Serve with bread or spaghetti, if you like.