Mediterranean meat balls

Serves well many people, excellent!  Make the lot, and freeze what you do not use. They   keep very well, and are very handy when you need to quickly produce a sophisticated little meal..

Quantities below produce about 6 dozen meat balls, 4-5 cm dia (not larger than a golf ball). You may reduce (or increase) the size of the meat ball or multiply the qualities  as you see fit.

  • 1250g (1,25kg) of medium-ground pork butt (yes, I ground my own, and it really does pay to do this, for all kinds of reasons including improving the odds against poisoning yourself);
  • three eggs;
  • a medium-large onion,
  • two cloves of garlic,
  • a small carrot
  • three inches of celery
  • 200ml grated Parmesan;
  • an awful lot of chopped fresh herbs (mostly parsley, but some thyme as well);
  • 125ml milk;
  • enough breadcrumbs to create a consistency very much on the softer side of firm – say, three handfuls;
  • a ton of salt, pepper and
  • Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón) (I would also use chipotle, although in my last edition I forgot about the smoked paprika altogether, and the result was still ok)
  • some matching sauce to roast with and serve with. For example it could be the Very Special Mushroom sauce..
  1. Mix all stuff – I usually do all but eggs – to make sure the balance between the milk and the bread crumbs is ok. Too much milk may require too much bread crumbs, and the concept is to produce meat balls, not the bread balls. Add eggs when you think the mixture is just a wee bit too thick..)
  2. Form balls of this mixture (keep your hands wet with cold water; this facilitates manipulating the greasy meat..)
  3. Brown them in olive oil (no, they did NOT stay perfectly spherical, so don’t worry if yours don’t either)
  4. Line them up on a sheet pan and roast them at 180C (375F) degrees for about a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes.
  5. Put half a teaspoon of gravy (or sauce) on each one (you could use a brush, come to think of it, as long as it is heat-resistant) and return the pan to the oven for another five minutes (*).
  6. Serve immediately (with hot sauce) or let them cool, then reheat them immersed in the sauce at serving time.

(*) If you think you will have some meatballs left over (not very likely, but, if..) you may freeze them by placing them on a Styrofoam tray to freeze, then, when frozen stiff, drop them in a seal-able freezer bag. It is done after roasting but before drowning them in sauce. This way you have many little separate meat balls, ready to be used in numbers and in sauces you may choose at the time.

When they are immersed in sauce you can also freeze, of course, but then they are in a dish that will be thawed in its entirety.. Also, when you have them frozen dry, you can apply different sauce the next time 9of course, the Italian style tomato comes to mind, but something like Romesco, or cheese, or.. would be as exciting.



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