Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Baby Meatballs

In the East Village of Manhattan there's a place called Lil' Frankies, a wonderful Italian restaurant with little tiny baby meatballs. Miniature food is always fun - mini cupcakes, little pizzas, pretty much any passed hors d'oeuvres, and obviously baby meatballs. Lil' Frankies uses theirs on pizza, and in a rigatoni dish. Oh, yum. Just writing this is making me crave them again. Good thing I have leftovers.

I used the same meatballs and sauce recipe as I always use, with a couple very small changes. I didn't make the sauce in the pan I used to brown the meatballs this time. I also used equal amounts of ground beef, veal, and pork (1/3 lb. each), and I used pecorino romano instead of parmesan. Get your sauce going first, keep it on simmer, then get started on the meatballs.

They were so small I didn't have to do much to form them, just pinch off a bit of meat and press it into sort of a round shape. I'm guessing here, but I probably made about 150 meatballs. I know, it sounds like a lot, but I think I did three and half plates of about 35-40 meatballs.

Heat up a big skillet with 2 tablespoons each of canola oil and olive oil, and add the meatballs with enough space so that none of them are touching.

They browned quickly since they were so small, and almost completely cooked through by just browning them on both sides for a few minutes. When done, add them to the sauce and put a lid on the sauce at this point.

When all the meatballs are done, add a little red wine to the pan and loosen all that good stuff that's stuck...

And add it to the sauce.

Cook a pound of rigatoni in salted boiling water, drain, and add to the pot with the sauce and meatballs. Serve it up with some freshly grated parmesan. Because there were lots of little meatballs the meat-to-sauce ratio was on the meaty side. I thought it was good that way, but you could easily up the sauce by 50% or even double it.

I actually thought the baby meatballs were easier than regular sized meatballs. There's less room for error in cooking them and worrying if they are too dry, too moist, won't stick together, etc. They cooked very quickly in the pan so I didn't have to worry about whether I let them simmer in the sauce long enough to cook through. And besides...who doesn't like little baby meatballs that get stuck inside of rigatoni?


  1. Oh how I miss Lil' Frankies!! I am going to have to make this dish out of nostalgia!