Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Savory and Tender Matzo Meatballs

Honestly, there are a million strange breeds of meatballs out there, but as long as you know this basic equation, you don't really need a recipe:

meat + binder + seasoning= meatballs

We were in the mood for regular meatballs that would work in a regular Italian tomato sauce. After reading the Chowhound forums, we learned that milk and bread are what bind and tenderize meatballs in most recipes. Dilemma: no usable bread and our breadcrumbs were settled at the bottom of a bag marked, "Expires July 2011." 
Matzo meal, on the other hand, was bountiful (and conveniently in season, though the meat/dairy/pasta combination means this dish is definitely not kosher for Passover).

The savoriest meatballs are also browned and seared, developing a flavorful crust to provide textural contrast to a melt-in-your-mouth interior. You're here for easy and impressive, right? 

Savory and Tender Matzo Meatballs

Cooking Time
35 minutes

4 bad Jews

Chef's knife
Cutting board
Cheese grater or microplane
Small non-stick pan
Large heavy-bottomed, oven-safe skillet
Baking sheet
Parchment paper (optional)

1 lb. ground beef (we used 80/20)
1 big handful Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup matzo meal
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup of your favorite tomato sauce (here's ours)
1/2 cup water
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Mix together all ingredients except oil, tomato sauce, and water. Check meat mixture's seasoning by cooking a teaspoon of it in a small pan. Taste for salt/pepper/cheese/parsley.

3. Form meatballs that are ping pong ball-sized with an ice cream scoop or your fingers and roll them lightly between the palms of your hands.

4. Heat oil in skillet over high heat until smoking. Add meatballs in a single layer, making sure not to crowd the pan (you may have to sear them in two batches). Sear until the first sides are browned, around 2 minutes. Flip each meatball and sear until the second sides are browned, around 2 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a parchment-lined baking sheet and wipe down skillet with paper towels.

5. Roast meatballs until the centers are only slightly pink, around 7 minutes. Go ahead and cut one open to check.

6. Return meatballs to skillet. Add tomato sauce and water and place over medium heat. Simmer, basting occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to a nice glaze that coats the meatballs, about 5 minutes.

7. Serve with spaghetti and more tomato sauce, topped with a little more cheese.

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