How to make a perfect meatball

  • Article by: MARIO BATALI , Tribune Media Services
  • Updated: February 13, 2013 - 4:53 PM

To make a tender meatball, use 50 percent meat and 50 percent bread crumbs.

Q: Making meatballs for dinner. Should I fry, roast, or braise?


A: I prefer not to roast, fry or bake. Often, I don’t brown my meatballs at all. Instead, I cook them directly in a bubbling sauce for about half an hour until they’re soft and succulent.

The plague of the American meatball is a lack of understanding of the proper proportions of meat and non-meat. A really good meatball is about 50 percent meat and 50 percent breadcrumbs.

The true secret is day-old bread, soaked in milk or water, to bring lightness to the mixture. When you cook beef, pork or veal for too long, it starts to get tougher. But the bread in meatballs never gets tough. Use a lot of bread and your meatballs will be perfectly tender.

I like to combine the ingredients in a stand mixer and let the technology do the work. The meatball dough will seem wetter than you’d imagine. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and it will be just dry enough to work into spheres.

One of my favorite ways to use meatballs is in a submarine sandwich. Place a few meatballs between pieces of lightly browned bread and pile them with mozzarella, basil and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Place it under the broiler for two minutes until the cheese is melted and just bubbling.

Meatballs are just as good the second day. Reheat them exactly as you cook them: in simmering tomato sauce.

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