Meatball Madness

February 17th, 2009
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After a month and a half of thinking about it, I finally had the time (and the mouths to feed) to actually have my meatball fest. On Sunday, I tried my hand at 4 different meatball recipes and had a few people over to sample them.
My first major challenge was that my Kitchenaid, which supplies the motor for my meat grinder is on the fritz, so grinding the meat myself didn’t work out. This really bummed me out, because I think fresh ground meat is vastly superior, particularly when I get to season the meat while grinding. I almost always mix salt, pepper and minced garlic (when called for) in with the meat as it goes through. That way there’s less handling necessary when prepping the meat. In my experience, whether it’s meatballs or burgers or meatloaf, I find that minimal handling makes for a juicier, firmer final product.
This led to two compromises (1) I had to just buy pre-ground meat in cases where I hadn’t already purchased pieces to grind already and (2) I had to use the food processor for the rest. In the end, neither of these compromises ruined the final product. In fact, the veal and lamb I bought was ground fresh by request not an hour before at Greene Grape Provisions. The compromise there is more the cost, where ground meat tends to cost $9/lb. Given that the genius of the meatball is to make something good out of cheap and leftover meat, this does go against the spirit of the dish, but sometimes you just have to have an expensive meatball.
Given all of that, I found a lot of areas I would improve on what came out. Some were really good, some weren’t quite what I’d hoped for. Over the next few days, I’ll go over them critically and take a look at what I can do to make them better next time. In the meantime, here’s what was on the menu:
*Mario Batali’s Polpette Napolitano
*Rick Bayless’ Chipotle Pork Meatballs
*Nigella Lawson’s Lamb Meatballs
*Japanese Tskune Chicken Meatball skewers
More to come…

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