PORK MEATBALLS WITH A LEMON VERMOUTH CAPER SAUCE
Recipe Development. A souless term when one is really pulling from their heart and collective memories
to create a new dish when faced with a group of ingredients and needing to put a meal on the table. Recipe
development is not a bad thing, it's one way new dishes come to light in the commercial and residential
settings, it just can become sterile I think, but it is something I encourage everyone to try. If you have
some basics down , like what meats or fish or poulty (or not)go with what herbs, sauces, vegetables, etc.
than you can have some real fun in the kitchen and surprise the people you cook for with something new and
In different regions of Italy certain ingredients are used in much of the local dishes. Most of the coastal
areas all feature a mix of lemon, wine , vermouth, touches of onion or garlic, capers, olive oil, butter and
anchovy to more or lesser degrees in many of the seafood and fish, sometimes meat preparations. This combo
is not limited to the coastal areas, but it absolutely reminds me of a sunny day in Venice, with the
canals glistening, reflecting all the awesome light that city contains. Face it, i'm a Veneziaphile (my word
for someone who loves Venice).
How do you not love a city that looks like that??? Water...seafood...Italian cuisine...so, while there is nothing
Venetian per se in these meatballs, they were inspired by the city while I was cooking. They are a great app or
entree, or dinner party dish as you can make them ahead of time. They reheat well.
I have no pix of my various steps in making this as I had no intention of blogging them until they started
cooking, then I pulled my BFF out (that would be my digital camera). For about 25 meatballs, walnut sized,
start by sauteeing 1 onion, finely minced in extra virgin olive oil, well seasoned with a little salt and much ground
black pepper. Saute' until the onions are translucent (clear) and soft. With a slotted spoon, remove them to a
bowl. Chop 8 fresh basil leaves (normally you shouldn't knife up basil, it blackens on the edges and doesn't look
good, but this will be cooked into the meatballs, so chop away.)..Beat 2 eggs and add to the mix. Now add 4 slices
of milk soaked bread, squeeze out most of the milk. Break up into the bowl. Now add 1 cup of grated Pecorino
(so here's where I leave Venice, and go down South...to be more Venetian, use Parmigiano, but for this dish, I like
the sharp taste of Pecorino), add 1 lb. of ground pork plus 4 tablespoons of plain unseasoned breadcrumbs. Maybe
I've passed this along...Italian Pork Stores (Salumerie) usually have plain breadcrumbs made from state brick oven
bread they have on hand. It adds a great texture and deep earthy flavor to anything you use them in and you can
season them as you like. Add 2 tablespoons of Vermouth..(back we go to the North) and blend this all well. Form
into 25 or so walnut sized meatballs. Add 1 tbs of olive oil to the pan and without letting the meatballs touch fry
them off, about 5 minutes per side, on medium heat. You will probably need to do this in batches..again...before the've
properly fried, if they touch, they will steam and the overall texture and taste will be different. Just trust me on that.
Keep removing the fried meatballs to a sheet pan that you can keep covered with aluminum foil.
In the pan, add
another 1/2 tbs of olive oil and one minced garlic clove, and one anchovy filet, melt this into the oil, takes about
a minute, then deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of Vermouth and the juice of one lemon. Let this come to a boil,
and then add a pinch of salt..now add the meatballs in to the pan and coat them well with the sauce. Let this
simmer for 15 minutes...then add 2 tbs. of unsalted butter, 1 tsp. of capers and stir. The sauce will slightly
thicken and get a nice shine to it. Make sure you coat all the meatballs gently with the sauce. Turn off the
heat and let the meatballs sit for up to 10 minutes. Then serve. This serves about 5-6. The meatballs
are light and full of flavor...crispy fries, or rice with a bitter green , like broccoli rabe are great sides to this.
the capers really add lots of flavor and interest to the dish.
So, before the Foodie Police haul me into the station, this is not an "authentic" dish from Venice, but a nice ode to
all things Venetian..the dish has beauty, the colors are great and you could imagine yourself at Harry's Bar sipping a
Bellini while watching the gondolas glide by.