I helped a friend out at a barbecue competition a couple weeks ago, and I think the friendly competitive spirit really got to me. I found myself craving one of my favorite things anyone has ever brought to any of my cookouts: Italian-style meatballs with cheese.
The base is a fairly standard meatball base: ground beef chuck, pork, bread crumbs, and eggs, with some additional seasonings of garlic, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Then I went in heavy with grated Parmesan and Pecorino Romano, making the cheese the primary flavors against the meat.
Now my memory might be a little hazy, but I'm fairly certain these meatballs were right on par with or maybe even better than the ones I remember loving a year ago. They were the perfect consistency to hold up on the grill, cooking through and browning beautifully. The cheese lends a bit of a bite and a complex saltiness that melds into the rest of the mixture to make a cohesive flavor throughout.
- 1 pound ground chuck
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- Marinara sauce, for dipping
- Type of fire: Direct
- Grill heat: high
In a large bowl, mix together chuck, pork, bread crumbs, eggs, Parmesan, Pecorino, garlic, parsley, and red pepper flakes until thoroughly combined. Roll out meat mixture into balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Season meatballs all over liberally with salt and pepper.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Brush meatballs with olive oil and place on grill and cook until well browned all over and cooked through, about 8 minutes total, 2 minutes per side.
Remove meatballs to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce.