This week's recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.
The poor meatball. So often relegated to childrens' menus and questionable smorgasbords at discount furniture chains, the meatball is rarely given a real chance to shine. But we know the truth – that with the right ingredients and a little respect, meatballs can be complex, delicate, immensely satisfying and borderline elegant.
Clearly, we are a family of meatball enthusiasts, from Middle Eastern kofta, heavy with green herbs and deep spices to dreamy Swedish köttbullar, smothered in peppery cream sauce. And, of course, there's the classic Italian-American; three meats, breadcrumbs, and some parmesan, all rolled into a covetable package. Jake has perfected his version which, when sauteed in just enough butter (a lot), and finished off in a pan of saucy tomatoes, manages to couple a toothsome crust and a melt-in-your-mouth center. Poured over a bowl of bucatini or creamy polenta, this classic peasant dish will make you feel like well-fed royalty.
Make the meatballs:
½ cup milk
½ cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp parmesan
½ lb veal
½ lb beef
½ lb hot Italian pork sausage
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1. Combine milk and bread crumbs in a small bowl until the all of the milk is absorbed.
2. In a large bowl, use your hands to mix the three meats with the eggs, parmesan, and bread and milk mixture. Make sure it is well blended but don't over mix, as the meatballs will lose their fluffiness.
3. Place a large saute pan on high heat with the oil and butter.
4. Form the meat mixture into 1.5 – 2 inch rounds, and brown in small batches. Do not overcrowd pan.
5. Brown meatballs until they have a deep brown crusty exterior, a couple minutes on each side. One whole batch should take about 5-7 minutes – the balls don't need to be 100 percent cooked at this point. When done, put meatballs aside.
Make the sauce:
(2) 28 oz. cans of whole peeled tomatoes
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1. Using the drippings from the meatballs, saute the onions and garlic in the same pan until translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, roughly crushing each tomato with your hand or a large wooden spoon.
3. Bring sauce to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the meatballs back into the sauce and cook for another 15 minutes.
5. Pour over pasta or polenta and serve with some grated parmesan and pepper.