Tag Archives: meat

Are you ready for my meatball recipe?

image source - flickr.com/photos/francescarter
image source – flickr.com/photos/francescarter

Yes. Yes, you are.

Well, here’s my first recipe post, and it is one of my favorites…meatballs.

While it is hard to make a really bad meatball, making a fantastic meatball can be a challenge. The first way to make sure your meatballs are full of flavor is to use a mix of both beef and pork. I prefer a 2/3 beef to 1/3 pork ratio, and don’t use a really lean beef. If it’s a healthy meatball you’re looking for, look away. With fat, comes flavor.

Also, use quality ingredients. Though it is more expensive, use real Parmigiano Reggiano over an American parmesan. There is a huge difference.

Don’t over mix or over shape your meatballs. You want them to be tender…overworking them will make them denser. When mixing them, stop when all of the ingredients have just come together. When shaping, don’t pack them tightly. Keep them kind of loose; they won’t fall apart.

Finally, if you are adding the meatballs to your sauce (or gravy!), precook them in the oven. The flavors of the sauce will infuse into them more easily. If you are making them on their own and adding an already prepared sauce, then cook them in a skillet. A nice sear can be delicious, especially in a sandwich.

1 lb. ground beef and pork
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
½ cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. olive oil (if preparing in skillet)

Put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl. Mix together with hands until just mixed. Season with salt and pepper.

If preparing in oven, preheat oven to 350. Shape meatballs into about 3-inch balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes turning each meatball over about halfway through baking. After removing meatballs from oven, let sit for about 20 minutes, then add to sauce.

If preparing in a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Shape meatballs into about 3-inch balls and place in skillet. Cook covered for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally to brown all sides. Let cool on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess grease.

Makes about 8 meatballs.

Buon appetito.

Now that the Italian meat ban has been lifted in the U.S., when will we start seeing some of it?

image source - flickr.com/photos/tangaroo
image source – flickr.com/photos/tangaroo

In a couple of months.

On May 28, a ban on cured Italian meats that had been in place since 1963 was lifted. The ban was on Italian pork, specifically, and was due to the outbreak of at least two contagious swine diseases over fifty years ago. Last month, Italian officials had declared many of the northern Italian regions free of swine disease, which opens up the opportunity for export. In 1987, the ban was lifted on imported prosciutto and mortadella, because they are aged for more than 400 days which was proved to kill the swine virus.

The regional meats that are soon heading our way include salami, coppa, pancetta, soppressata and the prized culatello. Culatello originates from the Po River Valley. It is made from the hind leg of a pig like prosciutto, but only the tender rear part that is free from bone and skin. It is salted and carefully massaged before it is encased in a pig bladder. It is then hung in a slightly humid barn or cave where it will age for at least a year. The taste of culatello is richer than that of prosciutto.

Below is a photo of culatello di Zibello I had at a restaurant in Santa Margherita Ligure during my last trip to Italy. It was served with a robiola cheese and fruit mostarda. There is a reason I keep going on about culatello…it’s amazing.

Then what’s the wait? Well, the certification for Italian meat producers can take up to three months, and the high demand for this previously unattainable meat is going to make finding it a challenge once it does arrive.