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Alexis Gabriel Ainouz's Meatballs Done Right
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"So, you think you can make a good meatball with only minced beef? Well, think again. It's all about getting the mix exactly right as you need to add pork, veal, bread, cheese... anything to make the meatballs juicy and melt-in-the-mouth. If you don't, not only will your meatballs be the same size as golf balls, they'll have the same texture as well and you don't want that, do you?"
Makes: about 20 meatballs
1. Dice the slices of bread, place in a bowl and pour over enough cold milk to cover. Soak until the bread is saturated and then squeeze out the excess milk. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic and fry until they are starting to brown.
2. Transfer the onion and garlic to a large bowl. Add the beef and pork, the bread, beaten egg and cheese. Knead well with your hands (if you don’t fancy doing this, wear rubber gloves) – it is important to obtain a good, sufficiently damp, texture otherwise the meatballs won’t work.
3. Shape the mixture into golf ball-size balls and dust them with flour. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the meatballs in small batches over a medium-low heat.
4. Allow about 20 minutes for this but, to double check the meatballs are done, cut one in half. It must be firm and cooked all the way through.
5. If you like, fill a small baguette with some of the meatballs, tomato sauce and basil, and tuck in.
Perfectionist or control freak?
Made this way the meatballs will flatten a little when you fry them but, for the perfectionists among you, if it's going to keep you awake at night I feel your pain, you can ensure they remain perfectly round by poaching them first for a few minutes in a pan of simmering water.
Extracted from Just A French Guy Cooking by Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz (Quadrille, £15) Photography ©Dan Jones
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This recipe was first published in October 2018.