Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jack and His Incredible Sicilian Meatballs

Louisiana men really know how to cook.  Food is such a huge part of the culture that I think it's bred into them at an early age.   At the local seafood boils, fish fries, and food festivals, men often do more of the cooking than the women do.

In New Orleans, if you aren't eating, you're TALKING about eating.  And everything you taste is the best thing you ever put in your mouth.  Until the next bite.

Food is a bridge that connects us to others.

Crescent City Connection
I had a neighbor named Jack, and we would often share food.  He had a sweet tooth, so I would bring him cake or cookies or fudge.  He would reciprocate by bringing us seafood or his fabulous meatballs (his Sicilian grandmother's recipe).

I have never had meatballs that are better than Jack's.  I think the secrets are the copious amounts of garlic, the large size of the meatball, and simmering them in the sauce.  (Fun fact:  In New Orleans, Red Gravy is another name for marinara sauce.)

One day I cornered Jack and got him to share the recipe for his meatballs.  He wrote it out for me, and I treasure that yellowed piece of paper.

Jack's Incredible Sicilian Meatballs
(click here to print)
Yields about 24 meatballs or enough to feed a mob

1 lb. ground beef (I used 85% lean)
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground veal (if it's too expensive, Jack says you can use 1 1/2 lbs. each of beef and pork instead)

3-4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
3-4 slices white bread, soaked in milk then squeezed out
6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup high-quality romano cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste (be careful with the salt because the romano is already salty)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine eggs, parsley, bread, garlic, and cheese and mix well.

 Add raw ground meat and mix lightly but thoroughly.

Line a half-sheet pan (or two) with heavy duty foil and coat with olive oil.  Roll meat mixture into balls that are about 2 inches in diameter and place on foil.  Turn the meatballs once so both sides get a little oil on them.  Alternately, you could mist the meatballs with olive oil cooking spray.  Jack browns his meatballs in a skillet on the stove top, but baking them requires less tending and mess, in my opinion.

Bake meatballs for about 20 minutes, turning once.  You want a brown crust but don't want to cook them all the way through.
If using immediately, simmer your marinara sauce while the meatballs are in the oven, then drop the balls into the sauce after they come out of the oven to finish cooking, about 10-15 minutes or so.  I used jarred marinara.

Or you can cool the meatballs, store in an airtight container and refrigerate or freeze for future use.

While I don't think my meatballs can hold a candle to Jack's (even using his recipe!), I'll smile when we enjoy these and remember my friend and the friendship and food we shared for more than a decade.

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1 comment:

Miz Helen said...

Hi Vicki,
Jack's Sicilian Meatball's look awesome! I will have to try this recipe it looks so good. I just love your photo of the Crawfish Boil. I am so happy to meet you and to know that you are close by somewhere. I am your newest follower. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you next week!