Sunday, January 24, 2010

Meatballs, Two Ways

Jeff and I bought the entire box-set of The Sopranos off of e-bay, and we've been drawn into the show in a big way. In addition to making me swear like a sailor and exclaim things such as "Always with the barking, that one!!" to no one in particular when I'm playing with the dog, The Sopranos has given me a huge craving for Italian food. The other night I watched a scene in which Dr. Melfi is eating dinner with her family, and I couldn't take my eyes off a big dish of pasta with giant meatballs sitting on top of it. I just had to make my own.

I very gently mixed lean ground pork and beef with finely grated onion, minced garlic, freshly grated parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs (which are Japanese rather than Italian, but they're the best,) marjoram, crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, and a couple of beaten eggs, and chilled it for about 15 minutes. I then lightly rolled about 2 tbsp of the meat mixture between my palms to form the balls.

After browning the meatballs on all sides in a little bit of olive oil, I threw them into Jeff's simmering spicy homemade tomato sauce for about 15 minutes to heat them through.

Ladeled generously over some fresh spaghetti, these saucy meatballs were just what I wanted. Moist and flavourful, they held together well without being too compact. Bellissimo!

But that wasn't all, folks; the next day, I had grand plans for the tasty leftovers. While I reheated the meatballs on the stove, I put a loaf of crusty bread in the oven to warm it up, cut it into two pieces, and then sliced it, taking care to leave one edge intact. To make a pocket, I used a spoon to scoop out a lot of the warm bread (which Jeff and I happily snacked on) and spread a bit of garlic butter on the inside of it.

I filled the bread with provolone cheese and the warmed up meatballs and sauce, and put the sandwiches back in the oven for a few minutes. Once the cheese was good and melted, Jeff and I eat the best lunch ever.

I totally recommend going through the trouble of making your own meatballs, just so that you can experience the likes of this sandwich. You will burn the roof of your mouth, but you will not care. Oh, I can still taste it: the crunchy bread, the tender meatballs, the spicy sauce, and the gooey cheese, all melded together into a mouthful of heaven. I am changed.

Aside from stimulating my mind for hours on end, The Sopranos has given me the best sandwich of my entire life. What's not to love? Although I can't say for sure that Carmela Soprano or Dr. Melfi would serve these meatballs to their Italian families, I'm glad to say that I satisfied my craving to the best of my abilities. There really is no limit to where a hobby cook can find inspiration; so tell me, what has inspired some of your best cooking?

Meatballs: The Recipe
Amanda's notes: Be careful not to over-mix! Once the ingredients are just incorporated, and after letting the mixture sit, wet your fingers with water and roll each meatball very gently in the palm of your hand.

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely grated onion
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbsp olive oil
Tomato Sauce

Bring tomato sauce to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Meanwhile, gently mix all ingredients. Let mixture sit in fridge for 15 minutes. Form balls out of 2-3 tbsp of mixture. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook meatballs in batches, turning every few minutes to brown all sides, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to the simmering tomato sauce, covering and turning heat to low, to finish the cooking process (10-15 min.) Serve over spaghetti or in a sandwich. Enjoy!


  1. When Kevin and I were in our Sopranos phase, he laughed for a half an hour when yelled at him to "quit busting my balls."

    Looks yummy!

    I'm reading The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink (an anthology of their food essays) and all its details of French cooking and restaurants is making me salivate, even though I wouldn't eat most of what they're talking about. Mmmm, butter sauce...

  2. Ahahaha!! I'm absorbing all the talk like a sponge!

    Thanks! You should post your veggie version!

    Ooooooooh! I love reading about restaurants, even if I'll never visit them!