Certified Piedmontese Stuffed Meatballs In Red Sauce
by Bret Jennings, Chef , Elaine’s on Franklin, Chapel Hill, N.C.
This classic Italian make-ahead dish is perfect for entertaining. Begin by preparing the sauce, and then assemble the stock and meatballs as the sauce simmers so flavors have plenty of time to develop. The sauce can be made up to two days in advance for added convenience.
- 1/4 cup pure olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced small
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes (optional)
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 2 cups sangiovese wine
- 4 28-ounce cans pureed tomatoes
Heat a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil then onion and sauté until edges brown. Add garlic, and fry, stirring frequently until toasted. Once toasted, add chili flakes, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Add sangiovese, stir, and let reduce by half. Add pureed tomatoes carefully and stir until sauce simmers. Reduce heat to ultra-low to avoid spattering.
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly sliced
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed chili flake (or more to taste)
- 1 bunch Italian parsley, washed and stemmed, roughly chopped
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until parsley is finely chopped.
- 2 1/2 pounds Certified Piedmontese ground beef
- 1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
- 1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 25 or 30 small cubes about the size of a round teaspoon measure (optional)
Break up beef into a large mixing bowl and pour blended stock over. Gently mix and coat meat with stock. Add bread crumbs and cheese, and continue to incorporate evenly, but gently. Once incorporated, divide into golf ball size meatballs.
Preheat broiler to medium-high.
The mozzarella stuffing is optional. If stuffing, push a piece of mozzarella into the middle of each ball and roll in your palms with gentle pressure until there are no visible seams or cracks where the cheese may ooze out.
Place meatballs on a heavy-gauge baking pan and broil in the oven until the top side is browned (about 5 minutes). When top side is browned, carefully roll over and brown bottom side.
Once browned, gently lower meatballs into simmering sauce. Stir every half hour, very gently so as not to break the meatballs apart. Cook meatballs in the sauce for a minimum of two hours and up to six. If not using right away, store meatballs covered in sauce. They will actually become more tender and tasty over the next two or three days.