by Renee Behnke and Cynthia Nims
On trips to Spain I have sampled many different versions of the meatball in tapas bars—some in sauce, others on skewers to simply enjoy as is. For buffet service, I set a small dish of toothpicks alongside a platter of these meatballs, so guests can easily spear a meatball to enjoy as finger food.
I like the combination of ground pork and veal, a light flavor that allows the seasonings to shine through. Alter the combination to include ground beef and/or lamb if you like. Note that you may need to pre-order ground veal or lamb from your regular market, or make a trip to a specialty butcher
Makes 8 Servings
• 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
• 1/4 cup minced yellow onion
• 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
• 2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
• 1/3 cup whole milk
• 1 pound lean ground pork
• 1/2 pound ground veal
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
• 2 tsp minced fresh mint, or 1 tsp dried mint
• 1 tsp minced fresh oregano, or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Mint sprigs, for garnish
1. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until tender but not browned. Sprinkle the flour over and stir to mix. Let cool.
2. Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small bowl. Drizzle the milk over and let sit to fully moisten the bread.
3. Combine the ground pork and veal in a large bowl. Squeeze the milk from the bread and add the bread to the meat, along with the sautéed onion, egg, garlic, mint, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend the ingredients well with your hands, then form into balls about 1 inch across (you should have about 40 meatballs). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before cooking.
4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In 3 or 4 batches, cook the meatballs, turning a few times, for 8 to 10 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through. Transfer the meatballs to individual plates or a platter. Arrange mint sprigs around and serve.
Menu Ideas: These meatballs make a wonderful appetizer before most any meal. You could also pair the meatballs with your favorite red pasta sauce, braised together a bit before serving over pasta.
Do-Ahead Tips: You can form the meatballs up to 1 day ahead and keep them, wrapped well, in the refrigerator. You can cook them up to 1 hour in advance and keep them warm in a low oven, covered with foil so they stay moist. The uncooked meatballs freeze well. Freeze them first on a baking sheet until solid, then transfer them to an airtight container to freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw slowly in the refrigerator before cooking.