This meatball recipe is inspired by Serious Eats. The success of the meatballs relies on the buttermilk-soaked bread that is added to the mixture and the seasonings and aromatics which make the flavorful meatballs fluffy, rather than dense. Combining pork and meat with a higher fat content are also an important component to this recipe lending great flavor and texture to the meatballs. I added a roasted pepper to my traditional vodka sauce which sweetens the sauce and adds an extra layer of flavor to the dish.
Serves 4 to 6 (makes about 20 medium meatballs)
For Roasted Red Pepper Vodka Marinara:
1 28 oz + 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (I love Muir Glen)
1 large diced onion
4 cloves smashed garlic
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 roasted red peppers, peeled and pureed
2 tablespoons vodka
5 basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil and butter, add onions and smashed garlic and bay leaf and sauté for a few minutes until translucent. Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients and stir bringing to a boil. Continue to simmer covered for at least an hour, add pureed roasted peppers and add water if necessary for desired thickness. Continue to simmer on low.
2 cups 1/2 inched diced crustless italian bread
1/2 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed
1 medium onion, minced
8 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, plus more for serving.
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, minced
4 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 ounce pancetta, finely minced
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1 pound ground beef (at least 20% fat)
1 pound ground pork
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine bread with buttermilk to coat. Let stand, until bread is completely moist throughout, about 10 minutes, mashing bread between your fingers to make sure it is consistently moistened. In a food processor, add onion, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, salt, pepper, pancetta, oregano and fennel seed and pulse until ingredients are finely ground. egg yolks, oregano, and fennel to bread/buttermilk mixture. Set mixer bowl in stand mixer and attach paddle. Starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, beat bread mixture until thoroughly blended, add aromatics and then egg yolks. Add beef and pork, mixing with hands until meats are thoroughly distributed throughout. Preheat oven to 450. Form meatballs into medium sized balls and arrange on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven for about 20 minutes until top of meatballs are golden and place in sauce to simmer for another 20 minutes to complete cooking process. Serve over spaghetti with shaved parmesan and serve.