Dear Sun Spots: I read your column every day and get lots of useful information like the latest for apple muffins.

I would like to know of a recipe like the restaurants have for Italian meatballs. I tried several but they just don’t seem the same. – N.E.W., Auburn.


Answer: Perhaps you and your family will enjoy the following from the Culinary Institute of New Orleans:

Italian Meatballs, Serves 12. Ingredients:
Olive pomace oil, as needed; ¾ pound onions, finely chopped; 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped; ½ pound bread crumbs; ½ pint chicken stock; 2½ pounds ground beef; 2½ pounds ground pork; 3 eggs; ½ ounce grated Gran Padano or Parmesan; ½ oz. grated Pecorino Romano; ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped; 2 teaspoons salt; ½ tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes; ½ tablespoon fennel or anise seeds; 2 ounces rendered pancetta or bacon fat. Method: In olive oil, sauté onions and garlic until onions are translucent. Allow the onions and garlic to cool. Beat the eggs and combine them with the onions and garlic, bread crumbs soaked in chicken stock, ground meats, cheeses and seasonings. Form the mixture into 6 ounce balls. With pancetta fat and 4 fluid ounces olive oil, briefly sear the balls in a sauté pan. Transfer the meatballs to a 2-inch-high hotel pan and bake at approximately 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. For the final 15 or so minutes, add a preheated basic tomato sauce to the pan, 2 fluid ounces per ball. The meatballs can be served as an entrée, as a sandwich, with pasta or as hors d’oeuvres with or without the sauce.

And for those who would prefer a vegetarian version:

Ingredients: 16 ounces pre-browned vegetable protein crumbles (textured soy protein); ½ cup egg substitute; ¼ cup Italian bread crumbs; 2 cloves minced garlic; 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese; 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning; ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seed. Method: Combine all ingredients and mix well. Form mixture into 24 balls, approximately 1 ounce each. Place meatballs on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees until firm, about 10 minutes. Can be added to your favorite tomato sauce and used for meatball sandwiches, over pasta or as an appetizer.

Italian meatballs from Arqua Restaurant, New York City: Ingredients: ½ slice bread (white), crusts removed; 3 tablespoons milk; 1½ pounds minced beef; 1 egg, beaten; 2/3 cup dry bread crumbs; vegetable oil for frying; 2 beefsteak or other large tomatoes, sliced; 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano; 6 slices mozzarella cheese; 6 drained canned anchovies, cut in half lengthways; salt and ground black pepper. Method: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the bread and milk into a small saucepan and heat very gently, until the bread absorbs all the milk. Mash it to a pulp and leave to cool. Put the beef into a bowl with the bread mixture and the egg, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well, then shape the mixture into six patties. Sprinkle the bread crumbs onto a plate and dredge the patties, coating them thoroughly. Heat about a ¼ inch of oil in a large frying pan. Add the patties and fry for 2 minutes on each side, until brown. Transfer to a greased ovenproof dish, in a single layer. Lay a slice of tomato on top of each patty, sprinkle with oregano and season with salt and pepper. Place the mozzarella slices on top. Arrange two strips of anchovy, placed in a cross or parallel, on top of each slice of cheese. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mozzarella has melted. Serve hot. Serves 6.

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