In honor of my hometown-childhood-playmate-gone-NYC-super-chef’s recent opening of the much awaited West Village pizzeria, Pulino’s, I’ve decided to tell you about my experience making Monday Meatballs from his cookbook (written while still cookin’ at San Fran’s A16), A16 Food+Wine.
Let me just start off by saying, these are the best meatballs ever to exist on earth. Honestly, I can barely think of them without drooling. They are just what you want a meatball to be: tender, flavorful and purely meat-centric. In fact, I think the key to creating this perfect ball of meat is that it is ground from whole cuts of beef chuck, pork shoulder, pork fat and prosciutto from my very own meat grinder attachment on my shiny, red KitchenAid mixer. No pre-packaged ground meat used. It may also have something to do with the ricotta, country bread, basil, fennel, grana… oh my.
So, back to the meat. Why grind your own? Yes, it certainly isn’t as convenient as the pre-packaged stuff and does dirty up more dishes, but there are major benefits. First, it’s fun. I mean, just trying something new and different in the kitchen is an entertaining event all its own. My husband and I make a date of it… there’s nothing like rollin’ raw meatballs, barehanded on a Saturday night. Second, its nice to think about. Let’s face it, ground meat can be a little icky with all of the extended exposure to bacteria not to mention the fact you’re probably eating several different cows in one little burger. (Hmrph.) Third, its customizable. Not only can you merge various types and cuts of meats, you can select where you get your meat from… preferably from a grass-fed and eco-friendly farm and/or responsible market.
Lastly, it just tastes better. Over the years, I’ve eaten probably thousands of burgers, meatballs, meat sauces, patties, loaves, ‘rites… you meat-name it, and nothing has ever tasted so fresh and tender. Now you may be thinking, ‘she probably thinks it tastes so good because she made it from scratch’… and that’s entirely possible. Enjoying the fruits of one’s labor is always so sweet. However, I’m quite certain that the quality of the ingredients in any dish does make the difference. If you don’t believe me, try it out. Find your KitchenAid meat grinder attachment here.
Now, this isn’t a recipe that you can just whip up on a Monday evening after work… it does take time, but making the time is half the fun. When we make Monday Meatballs it is usually on a Saturday or Sunday and we make A LOT. We enjoy them for dinner… a snack the next day… maybe lunch, then we freeze all of the remaining in dinner-sized portions so we can whip them out quickly when in frenzied meatball mode. They thaw wonderfully over low heat in a covered pot. Drizzle with olive oil, top with cheese and have some crusty french bread on hand. Don’t forget the vino. They are also quite tasty as an appetizer for guests. Make plenty.
To find the recipe, pick up the book or check out this handy video by Chef Appleman himself. You will not be disappointed.