I laughed recently when a long-forgotten song popped into my head. It’s one that most of you won’t remember, an Andrews Sisters’ ditty entitled One Meatball. The lyrics tell the sad tale of a guy who goes into a greasy spoon and has only enough money for one meatball. He wants the free bread, but is told gruffly: “You get no bread with one meat ball.”
A Panade Makes a Perfect Meatball
In this recipe—one of my favorites—you get bread with your meatball, all 30 of them. It comes in the form of a panade, that is, bread mushed up with milk and added to the meat mixture. The addition makes for a smooth-textured meatball.
Years ago, I learned from a fine Italian cook yet another bit of magic for creating a tasty meatball: a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg.
I’ll never forget my first hand-to-hand combat with the meaty mixture. As I’ve mentioned before, my culinary skills as a young bride were limited to tuna fish salad. Mel got tired of that in a hurry. He knew how to cook bean soup; but we soon had enough of that, too.
So I took on meatballs, because they looked simple. I bought a couple pounds, or so, of ground beef and mixed in all the recipe ingredients. I rolled meatball until I had bowls overflowing with them! About 60, as I recall, that took forever to cook in my small skillet. We ate meatballs for a good, long while.
After that I played with the Better Homes and Gardens recipe, that produced a more modest number of meatballs.
A Well-Rounded History
First enjoyed by the Xin Dynasty in 200 BC, these meaty orbs have since gone worldwide in some form or another. Meatballs may well be the perfect food for several reasons. They’re easy to make, everyone likes them, and they make a little ground meat go a long way.
They can be eaten alone like M&Ms or sauced up and placed atop a bed of noodles. Smash them between two slices of bread for a hefty sandwich. And they freeze well.