We recently received The Meatball Shop Cookbook for review, and boy, we will be the first to say it -- this is not a cookbook that you want to be flipping through if you are even remotely hungry. By the time you make your way through only the first handful of recipes, you'll be downright salivating with hunger... Yet most likely swearing by your infinite love for meatballs.
I've only started making meatballs in the past couple of years, but now, they seem to have inevitably woven their way into our weekly dinner line-ups -- especially when the weather begins to grow colder. But really; they're easy, and more importantly, they're an instant crowd-pleaser among all ages. (What's not to love about a ball of super-savory meat?)
If you, too, are a meatball maker or a plain fanatic, this cookbook from New York City-based The Meatball Shop's Daniel Holzman and Michael "Meatball Mike" Chernow, is sure to become a new favorite. You'll find everything from traditional classics, such as spicy pork meatballs and Bolognese balls, to more imaginative creations like mini buffalo chicken balls (football party perfection), steak 'n' bacon cheddar balls, and the viva la Mexico balls (with tequila included!). We promise -- even the meatless veggie balls will leave the most faithful of meat lovers wanting to change their carnivorous ways.
But that's not all -- besides offering over 20 adventurous meatball variations, The Meatball Shop Cookbook also features about a dozen different sauces, "stick-to-your-bones" sides, simple seasonal salads, and dessert recipes, including The Shop's special ice cream sandwiches. (New Yorkers, we're officially jealous.) It also covers six (SIX!) different risotto recipes, with variations fit for each season.
The funny thing about this book is that though it primarily rests around The Shop's famous meatballs, I've so far made more of their sides than their actual balls. But that's what I love most about this cookbook -- all of the recipes included are innovative and clever, yet just as delicious -- even if they're only meant to play second fiddle to the reigning first-chair balls. Just last night I roasted a chicken and made the honey-roasted carrots with prunes, walnuts, and mint; and last week, it was the smashed turnips with fresh horseradish. Both were equally amazing (not to mention easy!). Next on my list is a recipe for white beans, which gain their flavor from being simmered in a simple mirepoix with garlic and a bay leaf... Pair that with a chilly fall night and I couldn't be happier.
So, for my first venture into Holzman and Chernow's land of all things round and tasty, I chose to go with a simple classic, Swedish meatballs. Though I've begun to make more meatballs in recent years, this is one variety that I hadn't made yet, so it seemed like a good fit for a recent Sunday dinner. Plus, every once in awhile, a cream-based pasta meal just does the trick like no other. As for the rest of the featured meatballs in this book -- stay tuned. There is sure to be more where this came from... And then some more.
The Meatball Shop's Swedish Meatballs
Makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch meatballs
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 slices fresh white bread, roughly torn
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 onion, finely diced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. dry mustard powder
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 lb. 80% lean ground beef
1 lb. ground pork shoulder
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Drizzle olive oil into a 9x13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside
2. Place the torn bread, beef broth, and cream in a bowl and let soak for 5 minutes.
3. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until transparent, 6-8 minutes. Add the parsley, allspice, mustard powder, and flour and stir to incorporate. Pour the contents of the pan into the bowl with the bread mixture and stir until well mixed. Set aside to cool.
4. Combine the cooled onion and bread mixture with the ground beef, ground pork, salt, pepper, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
5. Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching on another.
6. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°F.
7. Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.
Serve with a favorite cream sauce over egg noodles, or with mashed potatoes. We chose to top our delicious balls with this easy Swedish cream sauce featured on Martha Stewart. (The Meatball Shop Cookbook also recommends their mushroom gravy.)