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_POSTEDON 2002-04-25 15:01:33 by jimmyd

Cooking With JimmyD jimmyd _writes "

Today, we continue with my series, "Politically Incorrect Cooking With JimmyD."

I know most of you've been holding your breath since the last installment, so go ahead and breathe.

Right now you're gonna learn how to make something everyone loves, and probably everyone's eaten many times. I'm talking about one of my favorite Guido dishes: meatballs.

You know, in the world of food, there's a lot of things that go great together, mostly in pairs: Peanut butter and jelly, burger and fries, ham and cheese, soup and crackers, meat and Potatos, liver and onions, ok maybe a lot of you don't think liver and onions are so great. But one of the world's greatest pairings of food has gotta be spaghetti and meatballs! Am I right or wrong here? Little kids love it, teenagers love it, adults love it, old farts love it; what's not to love about spaghetti and meatballs? I tell you what, you don't love spaghetti and meatballs, your a freakin' commmunist!

And just so ya know, right up front, I'm not gonna get into the spaghetti part of this dynamic duo. Go get any package of spaghetti--hopefully the good imported stuff made with 100% semolina--and they tell you right on the box how to make it, usually in English in case you don't "capice Italiano." The sauce, or gravy, is another matter. And like I said in my last cooking article, I'm going to teach you how to make a good red sauce real soon. But for now, let's concentrate on those little, 'delicioso' meaty balls of delight.

And let's get something else straight while we're at it: we're not talking about those little faggy Swedish meatballs here, these are Italian meatballs. The kind of meatballs real men eat. No little "pass the appetizer tray and let me have a Swedish meatball with my chopped liver canape," in this article. And as for those American-style, bastardized meatballs they serve in a crock pot with bar-b-que sauce--Forgetaboutit! Nothing but gen-u-ine greaseball, guinea meatballs for us today.

Okay, here's what you're going to need to make authentic Italian meatballs:

1 lb. of ground beef. (Don't get that lean shit, real Italian meatballs are supposed to harden your arteries)

1/2 lb. of ground pork. (Not that Jimmy Dean shit, that's breakfast sausage)

1/2 lb. of Pecorrino Romano, or a fine Parmesan cheese. (Don't ever buy this pre-grated or I'll have to shoot you! And don't get cheap on us here. Buy some good cheese you freakin' cheapskate!)

1/2 Dozen eggs-- 4 if they're really big. (I always use brown eggs. I think they're tastier. Plus I think they do something to white eggs. I'm not sure what, but whatever it is, I don't think it's right.)

1 bunch of Italian Parsley. (Again, you can substitute regular parsley, but if you use that Mexican cilantro shit, you're really fucking up.)

1/2 loaf of day-or-two-old Italian bread. (If you ate Italian bread yesterday, or the day before, save half of it. If you didn't, go out and buy a fresh loaf and wait till tomorrow or the day after to make your meatballs. Oh, and don't EVER wrap your loaf in plastic wrap. Mama Mia! What are you trying to do, turn a perfectly good crusty loaf into Wonder Bread?)

Some Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil (Again, get the good imported stuff. Don't get cheap on me here! And get the virgin kind!)

Okay, let's make some meatballs!

Get a good-sized bowl. Not too deep because you're going have your hands busy with your meat soon. You don't want to have to bend your arms in a weird way while you work your meat.

Ok, everything's right there in front of you, right? I hope the stuff's been there a little while. It's better if your meat is closer to room temperature than refridgerator temperature. Cold meat is tougher to work with, and things don't mix in as easily. And before we even start handling our meat here, let me say this: DO NOT HANDLE YOUR MEAT TOO MUCH! This is one of the most important things to learn about meatballs. If you handle your meat too much, your balls will end up too firm! And we don't want firm balls! When done, your balls should melt in your mouth. And the only way your balls are gong to melt in your mouth is if you don't handle your meat too much. Capice? Got it?

Alright, put your ground beef in the bowl and kind of spread it out. Now put your ground pork in there with it. Drop the pork in bits and small pieces so that it's spread out over the beef. This way, when you start 'smushing' the whole thing together, the pig blends in nicely with the cow, get it? Now go ahead and crack your eggs over the meat. Again, strategically crack your eggs so they'll mix in easilly. Go ahead and grate your cheese. You should be able to grate, I don't know, a cup, cup and a half, maybe two cups. When it's grated, dump it over the meat and eggs. Now chop your parsley. You can pretty much use most of the bunch. Toss the chopped parsley over everything. Now grab your slightly stale bread, hold it in both hands, and let some tap water run over it till it gets soggy. Squeeze the water back out of the bread and start breaking it up into little bits and pieces and into the bowl. Ok, everything's in there, right? Right. A little salt and pepper and you're ready to grab hold of your meat.

This is one of the most critical moments in meatball making. I can't stress this too hard. You need to gently work the meat. You want everything to mix together nicely, but you don't want to overwork your meat. Like I already told you, overworked meat is not good. So work everything together without over handling. This takes practice. I wish I could be there to help all of you handle your meat, but I can't.

Now we're ready to make the balls. You should have your frying pan on the stove, with about a half inch of olive oil in it, and the heat on medium to medium high. Like I've told you before, I prefer cast iron, and I hope you do too. Remember, we all need iron in our diets, especially you girls who leak it out every month, so get yourself a cast iron pan. And please, please, please don't use one of them teflon-coated things. Those are cooking abominations! They are good for frying eggs when you're on a diet and nothing else.

Ok. Back to making the balls. I personally think the ideal size for a meatball is about the size of a golf ball. Not too big, not too small. So scoop out some of the raw meatball stuff--you'll quickly figure out how much to make a golf ball sized meatball--and by cupping both your hands, kind of toss and work it back and forth until it is formed into a ball. Again, don't overtosss or overwork it. Put it on a plate. Here's a hint: every three or four meatballs, run your hands under some cold water. The meat won't stick to your hands and will ball easier.

Alright. Now start cooking your meatballs. Don't overcrowd the pan. Meatballs don't like to be crowded in. You need at least the diameter of a meatball between each meatball. Do not turn your meatballs too soon. Let them fry. If you turn them too soon, there's a good chance the meatballs will break apart during cooking. You want to try and cook your meatballs so they're evenly browned on all sides, and cooked completely through. You'll probably notice some weird shit oozing out of them while they're cooking. That's some of the cheese melting and spooging out. Don't worry. That's normal with meatballs.

And that's it! Italian meatballs! Of course, they're best when cooked in the red sauce also. And let me clue you in on something about that. Don't put your meatballs in the sauce too soon. Wait until about a half hour or so before you're ready to eat. Meatballs that are in the sauce for too long will fall apart. In fact, if you leave them in there too long, and they don't fall apart, I guarantee they're firm and tough and that means you handled them too much when you were mixing it all together.

Bon apetito!


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