Remember the NYCWFF Burger Bash that I took a lucky reader to attend with me in October? If not, click on the link, it’ll jog your memory. The winner turned out to be someone I’d met previously, and we had a blast. I mentioned in my link that there were sure to be lots of celebrity sightings and alluded to my propensity to make brilliant commentary – well, let’s say that we saw Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, Anne Burrell, Andrew Zimmern, a bunch of chefs who you may or may not know (if you follow the NYC chef scene closely, you might recognize their names, but I don’t remember most of them, sorry)… and Pat & Gina Neely.
By the time I realized I was walking right next to where Pat & Gina were standing, I’d had about 5 or 6 shots of bourbon… no, whiskey? Jameson? I don’t remember anymore – it was a long time ago, but I had a lot of alcohol. Straight. While consuming at least half of the burgers available. So when I noticed Gina – who is TINY, TINY, TINY, I mean, I’m 5’8 so I’m not short by any means, but she is TEENY! – right next to me, I stopped, and squealed “OH MY GOD, I LOVE YOU GUYS!”
Now, this isn’t a bald faced lie. I used to watch their show with fascination. The mushy gushy love they show for each other borders on nauseating, and I admit I watched partially out of jealousy but partially also to see if they’d ever fight. I guess they’d edit that out if they did, but I mean, come on!
I’m sure Felicia found this hilarious.
Even more so when… remember about 6 months ago, when I attended an event for Parmesan.com? At that event, I was able to listen to one of my favorite NYC chefs share his genius. However, at the end, he was crowded with all these other people and I was feeling shy, so I left without saying hello to him.
But he was at Burger Bash… and I had liquid courage inside me… and I had his white label burger (which won my vote for fan favorite!)… and I just HAD TO TALK TO HIM.
So I did. I talked to him for a good 10 minutes, telling him how much I loved Convivio, about attending the Parmesan.com event, how I enjoyed Nicoletta a lot, and how I thought Pete Wells horrible review of Nicoletta was way off base. He didn’t keep looking around as though he wanted someone to save him, either – we had a really lovely, in-depth conversation.
And then he told me the best news everrr, after I hounded him about the dish from Convivio that still haunts my dreams, the pasta with pork ragu… he’s opening a place on the Upper East Side that will serve that and all the fan favorites from his other restaurants that no longer exist! Woohoo!!!
So what’s this have to do with meatballs?
Well, after the event, Fresh Direct contacted me to thank me for my contest and attendance and all that fun stuff, then sent over a $50 voucher to their site for me to create something using Pat LaFrieda meats to share with y’all. I brainstormed… let’s face it, burger season – grilling season (if I had an outdoor space to use, which I don’t) – is pretty much done. (Though when I lived in the house on the water, I totally still pulled out the grill to use, I would just drag it under the overhang so I could grill without getting snow or rain on me…)
What’s next? Well, meatball season, of course. I slow braise mine, and winter is perfect for slow braises on the stove, simmering away, perfuming your entire abode with the bestest smelling meal ever.
So I made meatballs.
Spaghetti and meatballs. Meatball subs. And meatball sliders.
Best use of ground meat ever? You tell me.
1lb of Pat LaFrieda short rib blend
1lb of ground veal
beaten egg, for binding
Combine all above ingredients, and roll into golf ball sized meatballs.
box of Pomi chopped tomatoes
box of Pomi strained tomatoes
salt/pepper/pinch of sugar
Sautee the minced garlic and onion in a bit of olive oil. Once it’s fragrant, add the tomatoes, a bit of Italian seasoning (I add a little less than a tablespoon), salt/pepper to taste, and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a small bubble, then add tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Once it’s back at a small bubble, gently drop meatballs in. Keep at a small bubble for 2-3 hours or until meatballs are tender but cooked through (it takes me about 2.5 hours, but test them – that’s the fun part! tasting them! – until they’re properly cooked).
Serve over pasta with more cheese, or do what I did: buy Fresh Direct parbaked ciabatta sandwich rolls (I LOVE THESE THINGS, I keep them stocked in my freezer for quick and amazing sandwiches at any time because I really can’t eat an entire loaf of bread before it molds, so I don’t often keep bread in my apartment – this is perfect!) and mozzarella. Finish baking the sandwich rolls, slice open, scoop out some of the bread insides – I eat that, but you can also save it to make your own breadcrumbs later – and lay some meatballs in there snug. Put mozzarella cheese on the other side, fresh basil, a bit more sauce, and eat the best damn meatball sub EVER.
Or for meatball sliders, the brioche buns from Fresh Direct are also good – just thaw, then throw some mozzarella on there and broil a bit, and do things just about the same as for the sub. These are great for parties or football watching… perfectly sized so that you can eat other things.
How do YOU meatball?
(And yes, my answer to the long standing argument: fry or bake your meatballs is neither. I BRAISE them!!!)