Spoiler alert: an ice cream scooper could be your key to meatball nirvana.
What’s round, moist, and delicious all over?
If you guessed meatball, you guessed right. That is if you make it like the master of meatballs himself, Chef Daniel Holzman.
He should know, considering he’s made over 1 million meatballs every year since opening The Meatball Shop in 2009, every New Yorker’s favorite late-night spot for sauced-up and supped-up bites of perfection.
Possibly the world’s most widely-recreated recipe, the Italian meatball is said to have originated as early as the 4th century as a way for resourceful families to make a little meat go a long way. And for a food consistently gobbled up across the globe for hundreds of years, it’s surprising that it’s one of the hardest meals to master. Amateur chefs have long sought that perfect balance — not too firm and not too loose — to create a supple, yet sturdy meatball. You’ve probably wondered yourself how to make meatballs without eggs yet still make them stick.
Hence why we asked Holzman to dish out his secrets on ways to cook the best meatballs, in our new show Cook Together.
So, whether you prefer the traditional red-sauce rendition or feel like getting funky with lentil-balls over risotto (shout out to our vegetarians!), watch Meatball Dinner and customize with Chef Daniel Holzman in Eko’s Interactive cooking video so that you, too, can bake the perfect meatballs.
Scroll on for his 7 tips and tricks to tackling this foodie favorite, and if you’re already hyper-salivating from reading the word meatball upwards of 10 times, click on over to Meatball Dinner to get cooking.
Chef Daniel Holzman’s 7 Tips for the Best Meatballs
Speed up the process of garlic peeling with a large chopping knife and coarsely ground salt. Start by smashing your garlic with the side of your knife. Then sprinkle a pinch of salt and crush garlic until it forms a paste perfect enough to disperse throughout your meatball mix.
Leave the parsley stem on while chopping for a more efficient and flavorful result. Make sure to chop the stem finer than the leaves — and remember, as a wise man once said, “You needn’t eat your onions sparsely so long as you have a sprig of parsley.” The wise man is chef Holzman. Turns out that parsley is a natural breath neutralizer.
Mix with might. Myth has it that you should mix easily and gently, but the meatball master argues to go at it aggressively in order to develop a protein that helps cohere the meatballs and create a better texture.
Scoop, there it is. Form the perfect golf-ball sized goods with the help of an ice cream scooper, which helps hold their shape. And uniformly sized meatballs will cook up more evenly.
Invest in an instant-read thermometer and stick it in the center of your baking sheet. When following alongside our Interactive recipe, it should read 160 degrees to get the balls perfectly baked.
Salt your water. Whether you customize with spaghetti or penne (Holzman’s favorite pasta), seasoning with salt will raise the temperature of your water for that perfect al dente snap while also flavoring your pasta.
Garnish your goods with a few ingredients that you put inside your meatball for the ultimate presentation. (Parmesan is a must)
Bonus sauce tip: What’s a meatball if it’s not drowning in deliciousness? Heat your sauce-of-choice over medium high flame and stir frequently. If using the classic out-of-the-jar stuff, put a little water in the jar and shake. Then pour over your concoction for a food-waste free meal.