I’m not sure why, unhealthy but I find meatballs to be one of life’s great delicacies. Maybe it’s because it takes so long to season, shape, brown and bake them that by the time I actually get to taste them, they are simply delicious. Maybe it’s because I usually make them as an appetizer to serve with other small plates and my taste buds love variety. Maybe I just really like meatballs.
Whatever it is about them, these were among the best I’ve made. I used a mixture of ground pork and lamb and seasoned them simply with salt, pepper and Italian parsley. I also added some bread soaked in warm milk to keep them super moist. I brushed the top with a thick sauce of piquillo peppers, tomato paste, anchovies and smoked paprika that was sweet and smoky, piquant and salty. A sauce that caramelizes over the meatballs in the oven so that they emerge bright and fragrant and super flavorful.
I wish I had more of these right now. That salad I had for lunch isn’t cutting it when I have meatballs on the brain…
1 tbsp. tomato paste
5 roasted piquillo peppers (or1 large roasted red pepper)
1 anchovy filet (I used the kind in oil)
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. ground lamb
1 slice white bread
1/3 cup warm milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
Begin by making the sauce. Place the tomato paste, peppers, paprika, anchovy and oil in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Set aside.
Place the bread in a bowl and cover with warm milk. Let sit for a minute, then mash with the back of a fork, forming a thick paste. Add the pork, lamb, salt and parsley and mix together until well combined.
Place a cookie sheet near your work surface and put the flour on a plate or shallow bowl. Begin forming the meatballs. They should be about 2 inches in diameter. After forming each one, roll them in flour and place them on the cookie sheet.
Preheat the oven to 350° and set a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, heat the olive oil and place your meatballs in the skillet, allowing them to be spaced far apart. You will most likely have to brown them in 2 rounds to give them enough room. Brown them for about 2 minutes on each side, or until they are golden all the way around.
When they’re done, return them to the cookie sheet. Spoon about a teaspoon of the tomato pepper sauce on top of each meatball, then bake for 20 minutes.
Makes 4 main servings or 6-8 appetizer-sized portions