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The best meatballs I've had lately are the lamb meatballs at Beacon restaurant in New York City. I asked for the recipe and, as luck would have it, I wound up going into the restaurant to make them. This is the recipe as adapted for home cooking:

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Beacon’s Lamb Meatballs

By Chef/Co-Owner Waldy Malouf, Beacon Restaurant, NYC

Makes about 24 x 2" meatballs

3 pounds ground lamb (not too lean)

2 cloves garlic (finely minced)

3 eggs

1/2 cup finely minced onion

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped mint

1/2 cup aged Pecorino Romano

1 cup Greek style yogurt (Lebnah)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup olive oil

1 quart tomato juice

Combine meatball ingredients. Mix by hand until mixture hold its shape. Shape into meatballs (2” in diameter). In a large skillet, heat olive oil and brown the meatballs in batches. Place meatballs in a casserole and cover with tomato juice, bring to a simmer and braise for 30 minutes. Serve with cheese polenta, baby greens, and freshly grated Parmesan.

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For those interested in seeing how it's done in the restaurant kitchen, there's a post on the Beacon topic with some photos.

The major difference between the restaurant method and the instructions above involves grinding the meat. In the restaurant, they take chunks of lamb shoulder (chuck) and put them through a grinder, and they add the garlic, onion and herbs into the grinder whole or in chunks, and those ingredients get incorporated right into the ground meat.

Also as usual in restaurants they do things by weight. So they make their meatballs around 2 ounces. I imagine the 2" meatballs specified above are slightly larger. If you have a scale you can experiment.

For browning, in the restaurant, they use significantly more than a cup of oil. But that's for a 10-pound batch. Still, they use more.

hmm, very similar to my lamb meatballs, except for the cheese and yogurt. The yogurt is puzzling--a cup of yogurt, in addition to the eggs, IN the meat mixture? And it stays firm?


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The best meatballs I've had lately are the lamb meatballs at Beacon restaurant in New ... York City. I asked for the recipe and, as luck would have it, I wound up going into the restaurant to make them. This is the recipe as adapted for home cooking:... 

The yogurt is puzzling--a cup of yogurt, in addition to the eggs, IN the meat mixture? And it stays firm?

I intended to make this last Friday night - ran out of time to do the rolling into meatballs, so made it into meatloaf instead. It was great - good texture. I used very thick yoghurt - had drained it well so it was labneh (spelling?) really.

Edited by weinoo (log)

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My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

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[carmelization] has always been my reason for frying, but baking is so much more appealing.

Does anyone much advocate frying rather than baking ("roasting" maybe better name for same process)?

Same with bacon, for instance. Standard quantity preparation of fine uniform bacon slices lays raw slices on parchment or other absorbent paper on baking sheets, then bakes in moderate to hot oven. I don't know anyone with experience doing this who still fries.

I guess I fry meatballs occasionally for some special reason or recipe, but baking them permits good control, never adds gratuitous fats, requires less attention, and takes little more work even for vast quantities.

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[carmelization] has always been my reason for frying, but baking is so much more appealing.

Does anyone much advocate frying rather than baking ("roasting" maybe better name for same process)?

I guess I fry meatballs occasionally for some special reason or recipe, but baking them permits good control, never adds gratuitous fats, requires less attention, and takes little more work even for vast quantities.

If by anyone you truly mean anyone , yes I know plenty of people that advocate frying, including some restaurants.

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This topic reminds me of the recipe from Barbara Tropp's masterful "Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking" in which the "Pearl Balls" (basically meatballs coated in sticky rice). The only binder is an egg, the meat mixture of very loose, and they are steamed.

Along the same vein is the meatloaf (which I have successfully morphed into meatballs -- roasted not fried). The latter has bread crumbs, but no egg.

I'd have to say I prefer either steamed or roasted.

Oh, and with egg OR bread crumbs, but not both.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Does anyone much advocate frying rather than baking ("roasting" maybe better name for same process)?  ...

If by anyone you truly mean anyone , yes I know plenty of people that advocate frying, including some restaurants.

Sure, but restaurants do that with everything -- finishing water-cooked vegetables in butter, and all that. (Or pancetta or bacon fat, if they're from Europe.) And for sheer flavor it might be best.* I wondered if home cooks with good experience roasting meatballs return much to frying; Chris cited a good reason I'd forgotten. Firing up an oven just for a small batch would give me pause (especially in summertime).

* "digestive biscuits taste better than Graham crackers. This is almost certainly because of the extra fat, since we all know that calories are the fundamental medium of flavoring." -- Brian Reid in alt.gourmand, 12 Nov 87. http://tinyurl.com/225glq

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Incidentally either egg OR meat alone will bind a cooked ball, for the same reason either can clarify a meat stock: They're both albuminous materials, they have proteins that harden on cooking. The egg of course more liquid, so it permeates.

Bread etc. is not so much a binder as an extender or lightener. Meatballs without crumbs or grain are denser, tighter (and of course, more expensive). The more bread you add, the more you need further binder such as egg.

Bread crumbs or flour plus egg, WITHOUT meat, = dumpling, in classic US sense. (Meatball's vegetarian cousin, a high art form around Austria, Bavaria, and Bohemia. Some dumpling types have meat too. They're all related.)

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  • 3 months later...

Mixed up some ground beef, pork, veal, bread, butter milk, parsley, garlic, etc. etc. earlier tonight. Just shaped them into balls. I have 24 of them ready to cook. In the past, I have done them in a skillet on the stove. But this time, I am going to give baking them a whirl. Thinking about 400 degrees until I see them brown. If they don't get good color, I'll crank up the heat. I intend to keep some in the fridge for a day or two to make dinner tomorrow and monday or tuesday. The rest will get frozen. Intent it to be able to make a fairly quick meal on a weekday. Either spaghetti and meatball or maybe a meatball sandwich. I'll let you know how it goes.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I had excellent meatballs from my school cafeteria last week. They were basically ground pork seasoned with green onions and five spice powder, and served in a light sweet and sour sauce. Very excellent, and very unexpected - I'd never thought of putting five spice into meatballs.

As for microwaving meatballs, I used to make big batches up, fried, then freeze them and microwave them as needed for bento, which I understand is a pretty common practice in Japan. I had a little microwave steamer that I used, and I goosed them with a couple of squirts of Bulldog sauce before zapping them. They came out nicely and held up well in the lunch box.

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As for microwaving meatballs, I used to make big batches up, fried, then freeze them and microwave them as needed for bento, which I understand is a pretty common practice in Japan. I had a little microwave steamer that I used, and I goosed them with a couple of squirts of Bulldog sauce before zapping them. They came out nicely and held up well in the lunch box.

So, help me out here, I'm confused....

Did you nuke them before you packed them for lunch (to thaw....?), and then packed them and ate them (nuked again?) Or did you let them thaw and then nuke them when it was time to eat them for lunch? If they were thawed, then nuked at the time of eating, was there any sauce, and if so, what was it? Or were they frozen when you packed them, and had thawed enough by lunch that minimal nuking was required. Seriously, I am a remedial microwave user (usually just to melt butter/chocolate/etc. or steam veggies for dinner, or reheat leftovers) so this is sort of new ground.

Although I don't do bento, per se, I am always looking for things to schlep for lunch that will keep me from spending lots of money on bad food.

Edit to add, yes, the 5-spice pork meatballs w/ a sweet & sour sauce sound yummy....

TIA !!

Edited by Pierogi (log)

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OK, I took them out of the freezer, then nuked them from frozen with the sauce squirted into the steamer along with them. They then went into a Japanese bento box, where I ate them along with the other contents, at room temperature. Perhaps not ideal, but they could instead be packed hot into a thermal container like a thermos or a Mr. Bento type item.

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