How to Make the Perfect Meatball

How to Make the Perfect Meatball

Before you start rolling, sample your mix—fry up a small amount of the mixture in a pan, taste, and adjust. For a tasty, caramelized crust, sear them in a cast-iron pan. (For smaller meatballs, such as the Swedish ones below, an oven gets the job done just fine.) As for flavorings, you’re limited only by your ambition: Moroccan harissa, French truffle paste, Szechuan peppercorns… These three variations take you to Sicily, Sweden, and Vietnam. Happy travels.

Meatball 
Base

1 lb ground 
beef
1 egg
1 garlic clove, 
grated
½ cup panko 
breadcrumbs

How to Make the Perfect Meatball

Sicilian Meatballs

Makes 12
To Meatball Base add:
Zest of 1 lemon

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup golden raisins

1 tbsp pine nuts

2 tbsp anchovy paste
1 tsp kosher salt

1. Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix gently with hands just until the ingredients are well-distributed. Do not overmix. Form the meatballs by rolling between your palms. (They should be about 2 oz each—bigger than a golf ball, smaller than a tennis ball.) Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for a minimum of 20 minutes, up to an hour.

2. In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, sear meatballs for 5 minutes. Flip and sear an additional 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a slowly simmering pot of tomato sauce. Set meatballs into sauce, but don’t overlap. Cover and cook on low heat for 35 minutes.

HOW TO SERVE: Spooned over spaghetti or polenta, or tucked into long sesame-seeded sandwich rolls with smoked provolone.

Swedish Meatballs

How to Make the Perfect Meatball

Makes 30
To Meatball Base add:
½ onion, peeled and grated, with all the liquid squeezed out through a paper towel

½ tsp each ground cardamom, allspice, and nutmeg
7 sprigs fresh dill, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine ingredients
in a mixing bowl. Mix gently with hands just
until the ingredients are well-distributed. Do
not overmix. Form meatballs by rolling between your palms; they should be about the size of ping-pong balls. Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for a minimum of 20 minutes, up
to an hour.

2. Remove meatballs from the fridge and slide the parchment paper out from under them. Drizzle
2 tbsp olive oil over the pan and roll them around so the oil coats the meatballs and greases the pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

HOW TO SERVE: Over egg noodles with a warm, peppery, mustardy beef gravy and garnished with chopped parsley.

Vietnamese Meatballs

How to Make the Perfect Meatball

Makes 12
To Meatball Base add:
Zest of 1 lime

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 tsp ground star anise
2 tbsp fresh lemongrass, minced
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 inch fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp fish sauce
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix gently with hands just until the ingredients are well-distributed. Do not overmix. Form the meatballs by rolling between your palms. Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for a minimum of 20 minutes, up to an hour.

2. In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, sear meatballs for 3 minutes. Flip and sear an additional 3 minutes, then transfer skillet to oven. Cook 15 minutes. Remove from oven,
cool slightly.

HOW TO SERVE: Wrapped in lettuce leaves with rice noodles, shredded cucumbers and carrots, hoisin sauce, and crushed peanuts.