In an effort to help you and your family during COVID19, we will be sharing a new recipe from Chef Mike’s vault every week. Our goal is for the recipe to be easy, inexpensive, and, of course, delicious for the entire family (or just yourself). Our first Chef Mike Recipe in this series is none other than — DRUMROLL, please… MEATBALLS!
Before we get into the deliciousness that is Chef Mike’s meatballs, I have one question for you. Have you ever wondered where spaghetti and meatballs originated? Well, lucky for you, I did the research.
Most Italians dig spaghetti. And lots enjoy meatballs, made from a variety of meats, including poultry, and usually served in bowls of soup. But spaghetti and meatballs, together on one plate? Fuhgeddaboudit. That’s because spaghetti and meatballs are as Italian as pepperoni pizza—namely, not at all. The dish as we know it originated just 145 miles from Middletown, Delaware in New York City, as new Italian immigrants suddenly found themselves, neighbors, with other Europeans in cramped tenements along Manhattan’s Lower East Side. While classic Neapolitan staples like aged cheeses and Old World produce were hard to find in this brave new world, meat, especially beef sold by German butchers, was abundant.
Once an occasional treat to extend an expensive protein, meatballs could suddenly hit the table once a week. They did, and they grew in size as well, too large for the delicate Italian soups they were made for, but perfect to braise in sauces made with canned tomatoes, which were consistently available in local markets, unlike fresh tomatoes or “exotic” ingredients like garlic. Spaghetti joined the plate by necessity as much as anything else. While traditional Italian wisdom suggests pairing heavy meat sauces with robust pasta shapes that can hold their own, thin, lithe spaghetti was the cheapest and often only noodle available in 1800s New York. So cooks made do—and in turn, developed a new classic.
Speaking of classics, without further ado — Chef Mike’s Meatball Recipe:
Ingredients (*Please note, this is for a large batch of meatballs. If you are a family of four, these meatballs freeze really well):
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients well except for the ground beef. Next, add the ground beef mixture until the bread mix is no longer visible. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out 2 oz of meatballs and roll to balls. Place your meatballs onto a roasting pan and cook for 15-18 minutes.
If you make Chef Mike’s meatballs, take a picture and tag us on social (@TomFoolerysBar). We promise you, Chef Mike wants to see your best meatballs!
Bon appétit, fools!