Turk and I decided to have an Italian night, so we could face two fears simultaneously: meatballs and tiramisu. We also decided to get fancied up so we could take a better profile picture (ahem, see right-hand sidebar).
OK, so, meatballs. I wouldn’t say that I’m afraid of meatballs so much as grossed out by them. I actually “make” meatballs for Jack all the time, in the sense that I assemble all the ingredients in a bowl and then make Tom do all the gross parts, i.e. mixing the meat (gag) and cooking them.
Well. I took on the meatballs challenge mostly because—I was craving them. My friend recently had a baby, and as all good friends do, we brought her over some food (macaroni and cheese, chili, broccoli cheese soup, lactation cookies). When I visited, she mentioned that someone else had brought her meatballs, and that they had veal and pork in them and were really good.
Now, having been an exhausted, overwhelmed post-partum mom at one time myself, I knew better than to ask to have some of her precious free food. But man, oh man, did I ever want to. How good does that sound? VEAL and PORK. Together!
Thus I began my search. After doing a couple “meatball veal pork” google searches, I stumbled upon this recipe from the Food Network. Appropriately enough for our evening’s theme, they are called Italian-American Meatballs. Not sure what makes them Italian-American, exactly, but I don’t care. They fit all requirements: an equal mix of veal, pork, and beef; ingredients I already had around the house; no instructions to soak day-old bread in a bowl of milk or something equally obnoxious. (Ohhh . . . maybe that’s where the American part comes in.)
I amassed all the ingredients (which was actually kind of fun, the Whole Foods butcher had to measure me out a half-pound of each meat and made it into a little stripey meat package for me).
I will admit to taking one short cut when it comes to this recipe, which is that I didn’t make my own breadcrumbs. But the recipe calls for two slices of white bread and we are (as I think I’ve mentioned) not a white-bread house. So, Giant-brand breadcrumbs it was.
The recipe itself is pretty straightforward: you add all the ingredients into a large bowl, and then mix them together. By hand (shudder). Here you can see me visibly cringing because Turk was mean and wouldn’t let me chicken out of mixing them.
It was as gloppy and disgusting as you would imagine. Luckily I took off my rings first, because the thought of trying to clean raw meat out of those things later was just beyond what I could handle.
Once they’re mixed, you form the meat mixture (even that term turns my stomach) into balls slightly larger than a golf ball. Turk did this part, but only because I have a history of being really bad at forming things into balls and we wanted these to actually be good.
Once Jack was in bed, it was time to make the marinara sauce. This was also pretty easy, in that you just sauté the garlic in onion in (a LOT of) olive oil and then add everything else and let it cook. I will say that we did not read the instruction to chop the peeled tomatoes—oops—so we just kind of smushed them with our wooden spoon while the sauce cooked, and everything turned out fine. If a bit chunkier than expected. [One of these days we are going to get everything right. - T]
Then it was time to fry the meatballs. You cook them in batches, half a batch at a time, in (even more) olive oil. Once they’re all cooked, you add the marinara and let them simmer until the cheese in the meatballs melts.
Honestly? They were SO GOOD. Totally worth getting disgusting meat hands. And the leftovers the next day were even better.