Perfecting the Meatball, Part 1

The October 2010 issue of Bon Appétit magazine featured a piece on one woman's quest to perfect the meatball. I intended to try out this version, because clearly Molly Wizenberg, a former vegetarian turned meatball enthusiast, has put some serious effort into perfecting her recipe. But then I started speaking to some of my chef friends, and everyone had their specific recommendations on what they thought consisted a perfect meatball. I even caught a segment on the Rachael Ray Show where two of the Real Housewives of New Jersey squared off against one another with their Italian heritage meatball recipes.

Point being, when I set out to actually choose a recipe and buy ingredients, my head was swimming with contradictory thoughts. The first point of contention is the meat: beef, pork, or a combination? One person even suggested turkey, but I quickly wrote that off. Next, seasonings: garlic, onion, basil, oregano, nutmeg, etc. With so many to choose from, which combination should I pick? Finally, how to cook the meatball: skillet, oven, in the sauce, separately? This does not even begin to address the issue of what sauce to pair it with, but that would have to wait.

In the end, I compiled all the recommendations and compared them with both my personal taste preferences, and then got to cooking. The resulting ball o' meat was tender, flavorful, and all around excellent. So what was the winning recipe? Check back for part 2.

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