Meatball Madness: 5 Recipes to Make at Home

PHOTO: Giada Delaurentis hosted the Wine and Food Festival's Meatball Madness, New York City, Oct. 12, 2012.
Tiffany Hagler-Geard/ABC NEWS

Last week, the New York City Wine and Food Fest kicked off with a party dedicated to meatballs. Hosted by Giada de Laurentiis, "Meatball Madness" challenged chefs from around the city for the title of best recipe and fan favorite. A few of the chefs shared their coveted recipes with us. If you were unable to attend, try some of these recipes at home for a taste of "Meatball Madness!"

*Cook's note: For some of the recipes, you'll need a small scale to measure the ingredients. Most professional chefs make these in large quantities and measure in grams rather than cups. This site can help you convert the measurements if you don't have a scale.

HIGH HEAT pizza burgers & tap

PHOTO: High Heat PIzza Burger and Taps Served their special meatball pizza at the Wine and Food Festival's Meatball Madness, New York City, Oct. 12, 2012.
Tiffany Hagler-Geard/ABC NEWS
Broken Meatball Pizza

Did you know that leftover meatballs make the best pizza topping? Try this meatball recipe that High Heat restaurant served at the festival.

8lbs ground beef (we use a proprietary blend of 30% dry aged brisket with 70% Certified Angus)
1 qt breadcrumbs
5 eggs
1/2 cup garlic paste
1/4 cup dry oregano
1/8 cup red pepper flakes
1/2 cup High Heat ketchup
1/2 cup Amber ale
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup cheese blend
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients except meat in a large mixing bowl. Add in meat little by little until its all well blended 3. Lay out meat in a hotel pan and dimple with your fingers. Roast until browned on top and cover with red sauce and cover. Continue to cook until meat gets to temperature.

Because we use our meatballs as a pizza topping, we don't ever form them into actual balls. Once they are done cooking with break apart the meat and thus we have our "Broken Meatball" pizza.

Casa Nonna

PHOTO: Casanonna served their special Meatball during the Wine and Food Festival's Meatball Madness, New York City, Oct. 12, 2012.
Tiffany Hagler-Geard/ABC NEWS
Veal Meatballs with Ricotta

Make meatballs that taste just like your grandmother's with this recipe from Casa Nonna. Ground veal and fresh ricotta are the key ingredients that make these better than the average recipe.

2 pounds ground veal
50 grams extra virgin olive oil
60 grams minced shallots
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 grams crushed red pepper
3 eggs
6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
5 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
44 grams bread crumbs
20 grams chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 grams oregano
20 grams basil
8 grams salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and combine well. Then roll into 1 ¼ inch balls that weigh 3 ounces each. Be sure to wear gloves and keep the gloves wet with a little olive oil to keep the mixture from sticking to your hands. Place the meatballs on a greased sheet tray and cook balls for12 minutes. Then add meatballs back to the sauce and cook for ½ hour more before serving.

Makes 17-20 meatballs.

PHOTO: The Meatball Shop's Spicy Pork Meatballs.
ABC; Food Styling/Karen Pickus

The restaurant dedicated to meatballs, The Meatball Shop, served up these spicy pork meatballs at the event. Excerpted from their cookbook, you're sure to find many recipes dedicated to the Italian comfort food classic along with sauces and ice cream sandwiches.

Carmine's

PHOTO: Carmines served their special Meatball during the Wine and Food Festival's Meatball Madness, New York City, Oct. 12, 2012.
Tiffany Hagler-Geard/ABC NEWS
Carmine's Meatballs

These classic meatballs from popular Italian restaurant Carmine's will be a hit at any family dinner. Make them this Sunday and enjoy them over a big bowl of pasta.

1 ½ pound of ground beef, such as chuck with 20% fat
½ pound of veal
2 large eggs beaten
¼ cup seasoned bread crumb
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 sliced firm white bread, crusts removed
1 cup milk
1 cup grated Romano cheese
2oz and 2 teaspoons olive oil
4 oz Spanish onion, peeled and diced small
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
10 cups Carmine's Marinara sauce

In a large mixing bowl, use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix together the beef, veal, and eggs. Add the breads crumbs, parsley, basil, salt, garlic, and pepper and mix it well. Tear the bread into pieces and transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add the milk and let it sit for 5 to 7 minutes or until the milk is nearly absorbed. Add the bread to the meat and use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix to well. Stir in ½ cup grated cheese. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the meat mixture is firm.

Use an ice cream scoop, remove chunks of meat and roll them between dampened palms into meatballs, each weighing about 3 ounces. Refrigerate the meatballs for least 10 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. To sauté the meatballs, heat 2 oz. of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the meatballs and cook them for about 10 minutes, turning them gently until they are browned on all sides. Transfer them to a platter and set them aside. Drain excess grease.

In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté them 6-10 minutes or until they are nicely browned. Meanwhile, in a large pot, large enough to hold the meatballs, heat the marinara sauce over the medium high heat for 6-8 minutes or sauce boils slightly. Stir in the onions and garlic.

Add the browned meatballs and any accumulated juices and cook them over medium heat for about 45 minutes. Do not cover them while cooking. Add remaining ½ cup Romano Cheese. Remove them from the heat and set them aside for about 45 minutes or until they have had ample time to mellow and the flavors of the sauce and meat intermingle. To store the meatballs, let them cool in the sauce. Transfer them to a tightly lidded storage container and refrigerate them for up to 1 week or freeze them for up to one month.

Makes about 12 meatballs and 6 cups of sauce.

Hearth

PHOTO: Hearth Served their special meatball at the Wine and Food Festival's Meatball Madness, New York City, Oct. 12, 2012.
Tiffany Hagler-Geard/ABC NEWS
Veal and Ricotta Meatballs in Tomato Sauce Sandwich

Marco Canora's veal and ricotta meatballs from Hearth require a little extra work but are worth the effort. The result is a meatball with a light texture and maximum flavor. At the festival, Canora served the meatballs with melted cheese and toasted Italian bread.

1 pound ricotta cheese
1 pound ground veal (have the butcher triple grind the veal or pass it through a meat grinder or food processor at home), chilled
2 eggs
1 cup of freshly grated Parmigaino Reggiano, plus additional for serving
1 tablespoon of salt plus additional for seasoning the sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Approximately 1 cup flour
¾ cup vegetable oil for frying
1 recipe tomato sauce

Wrap the ricotta in cheese cloth. Place it in a sieve set it over a bowl. Weight the cheese, and refrigerate overnight to drain. (When thoroughly drained, the cheese will be the consistency of tofu.) In a large bowl, combine the drained cheese, ground veal, eggs and 1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season the mixture with 1 tablespoon of salt, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and a few gratings of nutmeg. Using your hand, vigorously mix until completely smooth, pale, and homogenized, about 4 minutes.

Test the seasoning by frying a pinch of the mixture in hot oil. It should taste assertively salty (braising the meatballs in tomato sauce tames the seasoning). If the sample is too bland, add a little more salt then chill the mixture thoroughly before shaping into meatballs. Dust a baking sheet and your hands with flour. Keep the remaining flour nearby in a bowl. Gently form the meat into balls about 2 ½ inches in diameter, flouring your hands again each time you finish one meatball and move onto the next. Reserve the meatballs on the floured baking sheet. There is enough mixture to make 9 meatballs, 2 per person plus an extra for the cook. Cover the meatballs with plastic wrap and chill or freeze.

Warm the tomato sauce in a large Dutch oven or high-sided skillet over medium-low heat. Wait to season the sauce until after cooking the meatballs. Heat about 1½ inches of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (a drop of water will immediately sizzle and sputter) begin carefully frying the meatballs, moving them as little as possible. Cook the meatballs until the bottoms are nicely browned, about 2 minutes then gently turn them. Continue frying until the meatballs are uniformly browned, about 2 minutes more. Remove the meatballs from the oil with a slotted spoon and carefully add them to the warm tomato sauce.

Finish cooking the meatballs in the tomato sauce, gently simmering over medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes (they can remain in the sauce for hours without ill effect). Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve the meatballs in sauce alone or over pasta. This recipe can be made a day or more in advance. The meatballs can be frozen in the sauce then reheated gently.

For the sauce:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, crushed with palm of hand
2 14oz cans of San Marzano tomatoes
3 cups loosely-packed basil leaves
1 1/2 sticks butter
Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add oil and garlic. Sautee until very light golden color. Add tomatoes and simmer for an hour and a half, or until oil breaks out of tomato. Take pot off heat and add basil and butter. Blend all with an immersion blender. Drop cooked meatballs in pot and simmer on stove for hour and a half.

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