We must be on a meatball kick around here; when we saw this recipe in the weekend Wall St. Journal, we made it the same day. The Wall St. Journal, by the way, recently started publishing a “Weekend Edition” which comes out on Saturdays. It is sort of an expanded version of their “Personal Edition” and includes articles on travel, health, and food. In particular it shares recipes from famous chefs that regular people can make at home on a weekend, often with more recipes for the leftovers to use during the week. We’ve tried several of their recipes and all have been good, some astoundingly so. This meatballs with green-peppercorn sauce is one the astounding ones. When I bothered to look up from the recipe and review WSJ article I was happily surprised to learn that the recipe comes from the kitchen of chefs Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal of San Francisco. Mitchell is one of the jolliest people I’ve ever met (we used to train in Aikido together), and a gifted chef whose whole being exudes a love for great food. He and his brother are chefs not only at Postrio, where Clinton would eat when he came to town, but also now at their own restaurant, Town Hall.
Brined green peppercorns can be hard to find, and while they are the best for this recipe, you can use dried green peppercorns, too. Just add them in at the beginning of cooking and they should soften enough to eat by the time you’re done.
Meatballs With Green-Peppercorn Sauce Recipe
Note, this recipe makes a lot more sauce than we actually needed for the meatballs. But, the sauce is so good, any leftover can be mixed in with rice or pasta.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 medium shallots, minced
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp sherry wine vinegar
- ½ cup brandy
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup port
- 2 cups beef stock or chicken stock
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons green peppercorns in brine, drained and crushed
- Coarse salt, to taste
- 2 ½-inch thick slices white bread, crusts removed
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ pound ground veal
- ½ pound ground pork
- ½ pound ground beef
- 1½ teaspoons coarse salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup olive oil
1 To make the meatballs, soak the bread in milk until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain the milk and squeeze the bread out slightly. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread, veal, pork, beef, salt, pepper, Parmigiano-Reggiano, ricotta, egg and parsley. Mix well enough to combine the ingredients, but just enough — if you work the mixture too long your meatballs will become tough. Roll into meatballs the size of golf balls, set on a tray and put in the fridge to firm up.
2 To make the sauce, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the shallots and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the mustard, brandy and sherry vinegar and reduce to half, about 3-4 minutes. If you are using dried peppercorns, add them here.
3 Add the red wine and port and reduce by half, about 15 minutes. Take the meatballs out of the fridge now. Add the stock to the sauce and reduce the mixture by half again, about 20 minutes. If you are using brined green peppercorns add them and salt to taste.
4 Heat the ¼ cup olive oil a large nonstick pan over medium high heat. Fry the meatballs until crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside, about 12 minutes. Do this in batches so that the meatballs are not crowded. As the batches of meatballs are cooked, transfer them to 300-degree oven to stay warm while you finish cooking the meatballs and sauce.
5 When all the meatballs have been cooked, add them to the sauce and coat them well. Bring to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, then turn off the heat and transfer the meatballs to a platter or to plates. Stir the heavy cream into the sauce and serve.
Yield: Serves 6.