I made 52 meatballs last Sunday. 52!!! I thought we’d be eating them forever. And I couldn’t freeze them again – I was working with meat that had been frozen, so that wouldn’t have been right.
And then both boys were home, with their girls. I served 10 as an appetizer for a special birthday dinner with 5 of us. OMG – everyone LOVED them!!
Everyone spent the night. The next morning, one boy had 6 or 8 for breakfast and one girl took some amount for lunch. And then I kept trying to sell them – take more for your dinner – you know – I have so many – we’ll never eat all of these…
So now it was Wednesday and this was our dinner for just the two of us. I opened the pot — ooops. Not many left. I have four and my husband has six for dinner and there are just 9 left!
This is a really good recipe. They really are THE BEST meatballs.
It is based on a recipe by Seamus Mullin of Tertulio, an award-winning restaurant here in NYC that has fond memories for me. Several years ago, as one of my Christmas presents, my two boys took me there for dinner and said I could ask them ANYTHING I wanted. That was their gift.
Isn’t that so cool? So cute!!!
I did not abuse it then. I didn’t ask anything untoward. Nothing outrageous. I was a bit nosey but respectful.
But then afterwards, sometimes I’d forget. I thought we were in the same mode and they’d say, “un uh – no, no – time’s up. We’re not there anymore. You can’t ask that.”
They are so cute.
Back to the meatball recipe. This was published in Food & Wine some years ago and I just recently discovered it and of course, as usual, I have changed it. And oh by the way, the recipe says it takes an hour and a half. Don’t kid yourself. Plan on more like three hours. By the time you wash and chop all the herbs and make and fry the meatballs, then make the sauce – it’s a long time.
But boy, these are really, really good.
My French bookkeeper at the office once told me that her grandmother always mixed a little veal into things to make them sing. So here Seamus calls for 2.5 lbs. of ground lamb. I made these with 2 lbs. of lamb and 1 lb. of veal, bumped up all the herbs and used heavy cream with a touch of water, instead of milk to soak the almonds in.
Try these. You will be so super satisfied when you hear the deep sighs and murmurs of delight while watching your crew devour them.
You will never feel more LOVED. Promise.
THE BEST MEATBALLS WITH RICH TOMATO SAUCE AND RICOTTA – serves 8 – adapted from a Chef Seamus Mullin recipe
FOR THE SAUCE:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves, torn
2 heaping Tbs. fresh oregano leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
Two 28-ounce cans whole Italian tomatoes with their juices, crushed
6 large anchovy fillets, chopped
Freshly ground pepper
FOR THE MEATBALLS: – makes 52 meatballs
1/2 cup raw almonds, finely chopped in a food processer
6 Tbs. heavy cream + 2 Tbs. water or 1/2 cup whole milk
2 lb. ground lamb
1 lb. ground veal
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves, packed, plus whole leaves for garnish
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, packed
2 heaping Tbs. finely chopped mint
1 heaping Tbs. finely chopped oregano
2 tsp. finely chopped thyme
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. dry red wine (or white wine)
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 3/4 tsp. ground coriander
3/4 tsp. ground fennel
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Ricotta cheese, for serving
Extra olive oil for serving
MAKE THE SAUCE:
In a large heavy enameled pot – such as a Le Creuset – heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, basil, oregano, bay leaves and red pepper and cook over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until the tomatoes are saucy, 1 hour. Stir in the anchovies and season with salt and black pepper.
MAKE THE MEATBALLS:
In a bowl, cover the almonds with the heavy cream and water or whole milk and let stand until most of the milk has been absorbed, 30 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the whole basil leaves, olive oil and ricotta and mix well. Form into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
In a skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Working in batches, cook the meatballs over moderately high heat, turning, until nearly cooked through, 7 minutes per batch. Drain the meatballs on paper toweling on a platter.
Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer until cooked through, 8 minutes. Spoon into bowls, top with ricotta and a drizzle of olive oil on the ricotta. You can also add some basil leaves as garnish.
The meatballs can be refrigerated in the sauce overnight. Warm in a covered ovenproof dish at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Serve with LOVE and toasted bread, and you’ll be in heaven!!