by Glen Manzer from Cibo 17th Restaurant

Homemade meatballs are simply the best. Use your favourite tomato sauce to braise them, then serve these meatballs with crusty bread and a glass of Chianti. All herbs in this recipe are fresh unless noted otherwise.

Veal Meatballs

Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup finely diced shallots
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch ground fennel seeds
  • pinch chili flakes
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 loaf fresh focaccia, crusts removed and roughly torn
  • 1 tsp sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp basil, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp Italian parsley, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp Thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 1/4 lbs ground veal
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup parmesan, grated

Instructions

  • Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large saute pan on medium-high. Add shallots and garlic, season with a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, stir in cinnamon, fennel seeds and chilli flakes. Allow to cool completely.
  • Pour milk into a large bowl, add the bread and allow to soak for 10 minutes. Drain and discard the milk, then, using your hands, squeeze any excess liquid from the bread.
  • Stir the bread mixture into the shallots and garlic. Add sage, oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, lemon zest and ground veal, mixing gently until just combined. Do not over mix. Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. 
  • Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil into a large frying pan on high. Pinch off a quarter-sized piece of the meat mixture, form it into a patty and fry for five minutes, or until crisp and browned. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  • Using your hands, shape the remaining meat mixture into three-inch balls. Add 2 tbsp more olive oil to the frying pan and carefully add meatballs. Cook in batches if necessary, until browned on all sides for 10 to 15 minutes. (Handle the meat gently so that you do not break up the balls.)
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to a large oven proof dish, arranging them in a single layer. 
  • Preheat the oven to 400F. Cover the meatballs with tomato sauce and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, arrange on a large family-style serving platter and garnish with parmesan and Italian parsley (or chopped basil). Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.