Scooter wanted a meatball hoagie for dinner tonight. And given that he spent several of his earliest and most pivotal palate development years in northern New Jersey, that request did not equate to buying frozen meatballs at Joe’s and tossing them in some sauce. Hell no. That meant grabbing the ground meat out of the fridge, welding my breadcrumbs and spices, and getting wrist-deep and sexy with both hands in a mixing bowl.
I have a couple of solid go-to meatball recipes that I use time and time again, but I thought I’d change it up a little tonight. Upon Google consult, New York Times Magazine had a five-star option that looked pretty good, but when their site asked for a login and subscription in order to see the goods, it pissed me off almost as much as Tony Bourdain’s Pittsburgh episode of Parts Unknown last Sunday. Anyhoo, shortly beyond NYT was Allrecipes and it’s member recipe for Meatball Nirvana. Well, why not indeed? Here are my rankings:
Time Investment: Low
“Ingredients in the Pantry” Factor: High
Overall Result: Very Good
I prefer to bake my meatballs; I’ve done a lot of frying, but ever since a drip of hot oil jumped from the meatball pan into my cleavage a few years ago, I’m a little wary of using hot oil when not wearing a dickie. And baking is way less messy too, so this recipe was right up my alley. I didn’t have all the ingredients listed, so I subbed in sriracha for the hot sauce and added a little of Joe’s 21-Seasoning Salute in absence of garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Oh, and panko–I’m a panko convert, so that always goes into my meatballs instead of breadcrumbs.
It was fixing to be a good result–smooth prep, good ingredients (even crushed red pepper), and Pandora excelling at Thumbprint Radio on a torrentially rainy Saturday night. As I started to form those meatballs, though, Pandora played me a smoking live version of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” and my goose bumps went right into the bowl with the meatball mix, shaping themselves into the final product between my fingers. There’s the extra ingredient right there.
Etta would have liked the result, I think–spicy peppery meatballs with a teensy bit of crispness from the oven and just the right level of moisture. I served them up on toasted hoagie rolls with extra sauce and “whatever cheese was in the fridge,” accompanied by a Funky Buddha IPA. No leftovers–Scooter dug it and now Meatball Nirvana is going onto my go-to list. I think New Jersey would approve.