It's hard to beat the pleasure of eating meatballs—there's something universally satisfying about them, seasoned all the way to the center, flavorful as all get-out, juicy and filling. It's all the pleasures of eating meat, with almost guaranteed results: You get to pick the flavors, control the fat content, and shape them all into the right size so they cook properly. A pork chop can be dry or juicy depending on how much attention you're paying to it in the skillet, whether it's properly marbled, and your skill as a cook. But grind that pork into meatballs, and you take some of the guessing out of the game.
These are especially foolproof. The inimitable Nigel Slater comes to the rescue with these quick-to-prepare polpettine with a mixture dramatically seasoned with lemon, thyme, Parmesan, and minced up anchovies. That last part might sound a little odd, but the anchovies sort of disappear into the meat, leaving behind all their round, salty flavor.
I served these tossed with wide noodles dressed up with a little more olive oil and lemon, but they'd be good next to rice, too.
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 pound ground pork
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
- 6-8 springs thyme, leaves removed
- 3 tablespoons grated good-quality Parmesan
- 10 anchovy fillets, minced
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 1 pound pasta, cooked in salted boiling water until al dente
Sprinkle flour on large baking sheet. Combine breadcrumbs, pork, lemon zest and juice, parsley leaves, thyme, Parmesan, and anchovy filets in large bowl. Add good pinch salt and pepper and mix ingredients thoroughly by hand. Shape into 18-20 balls, about heaped tablespoon each, and put on floured baking sheet.
Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until butter melts and foam subsides, then roll enough meatballs that will fit comfortably in skillet in light coating of flour. Cook until golden all over, in batches if necessary, 10-12 minutes total. Avoid moving unless necessary to promote caramelization.
Pour off most of fat from skillet and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce for 2-3 minutes. Serve with pasta and juices from pan.