September 23, 2011

Cocktail Meatballs in Tomato-Saffron Sauce

This is from the Best International Recipe Book from the author's of Cook's Illustrated. Nathan found the cookbook at the library and selected this dish to make with the nutritionist that he was meeting with.

The dish was so good that even though I don't usually eat meat, I ate a full serving of this.

If I had it to do over, I would probably try a veg version of meatballs and cut the meat version of the meatballs in half. And I'd make twice as much of the sauce and picada.

2 slices high-quality white sandwhich bread, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup whole milk
8 ounces (85 percent lean) ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
1/2 ounces Manchego or Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 large egg yolk
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, minced
1 small tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped medium
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped almonds
2 medium garlic cloves,

1. For the meatballs: In a large bowl, mash the bread and milk together to form a smooth paste. Add the ground meats, Manchego, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, salt and pepper to the mashed bread and mix until uniform. Shape the mixture into 1/2-inch-round meatballs (1 teaspoon per meatball; you should have 35 to 40 meatballs).

2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes, reducing the heat if the oil begins to smoke. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the reamining meatballs. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the oil left in the skillet.

3. For the sauce: Add the onion to the oil left in the skillet and cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits, until very soft and lightly browned, 6 to 9 minutes. Stir in the tomato and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the broth, wine, and bay leaves, then carefuly return the meatballs to the skillet. Cover and simmer until the meatballs are just cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes.

4. For the picada: While the meatballs cook, mash together the parsley, almonds, garlic, saffron, paprika, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a pinch pepper. When the meatballs are cooked, remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir the picada into the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the meatballs and sauce to a serving dish and serve immediately.