Chef Michael Lombardi of SRV, the South End’s beloved Venetian bacaro (which will be re-opening in just a few weeks), shares a couple of his well-guarded meatball secrets. The first: panada. Made of eggs, bread, some type of liquid and occasionally cheese (in this case, ricotta) to create a binder, the paste-like mixture adds moisture, keeps the meat tender and ups the architectural integrity of the meatball. The second: don’t overwork the meat. Mix the ingredients until they’re just combined for the most melt-in-your-mouth meatballs and mangià!
- 1 pound ground beef (preferably chuck)
- 1 pound ground pork
- 5 large cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons black pepper
- 3 ounces pecorino
- 3 ounces parmesan
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 2-3 large eggs
- 5 ounces bread
- 8 ounces milk
- 8 ounces ricotta
- Add all of the panada ingredients together and let soak for at least 30 minutes (chef's note: this can also be set up overnight).
Crush the mixture together with your hands to make a thick paste (or put all of the ingredients in the food processor)
- Mix all of the meat and spices together, while working the meat as little as possible.
- Mix the meat mix with the panada mix by hand until it is all incorporated and well dispersed. Again, do not overwork the meat or else the final product won't be as tender.
- Let the mix sit in the bowl for at least 15 minutes and then scoop or hand roll into meatballs.
- Fry the meatballs on the stove top in grapeseed oil, turning to brown all sides. (chef's note: if you don't want to fry them, place them in a 450 degree oven and cook them until the outsides are brown and the meatballs are firm enough to not break apart — around medium rare)
- Add the meatballs into your favorite tomato sauce and serve.