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The Best Balls in Berkeley! (Meatballs, that is)

The Best Balls in Berkeley! (Meatballs, that is)


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If your name is on the guest list, no one can take you higher. Everybody says I’ve got great balls of fire!
- AC/DC

There are some things that strike our palate, bringing with them a barrage of childhood memories that lead us on a lifetime quest to satisfy such cravings. Mine is the meatball. I have traveled far and wide from Rome to New York City, Los Angeles and even Miami in search of the perfect meatball, from the Sicilian kitchen of a lifelong family friend’s home to the apartment of an Irish DJ in search of the perfect ball.

Mouthwatering Meatballs | Photo by Laura Lim

While many came close, none came near the balls I found when I came to Berkeley.

On a Friday night, a local vegetarian friend and I sat at the bar of Little Star Pizza on Solano Ave. in Albany while we waitied for our “Little Star deep dish pie”–a rich blend of spinach mixed with ricotta, feta, mushrooms, onion and garlic with a cornmeal crust–to bake. Here’s pizza for me: by the time you come to the crust you’ve already savored what you really wanted to taste. However, this cornmeal crust is an undercover delight.

Photo by Laura Lim

Seated at the bar as I enjoyed my red IPA and closely read the menu, I noticed meatballs offered as an appetizer. Our kind bartender, Erika, telepathically sensed my feelings of urgency and offered to bring me just one meatball free of charge to sample. The rest is history. It was fragrant, hot and perfect. As a tasty blend of beef, pork and spices, drenched in a fresh marinara of sweet local tomatoes, garlic and basil melted in my mouth, I did the happy barstool seat dance. While these are standard meatball ingredients, the manner in which they are assembled is magical–so magical that I returned the next weekend specifically for an large order of meatballs.

This sucked because my second order of balls appeared slightly burnt and hidden under their signature sauce; but I just couldn’t give up on their flavor so…

Today, I returned, and my balls were everything! This time I ordered the hot meatball sandwich, which came out oozing with fresh mozzarella cheese on a sourdough roll (toasted to perfection) with more of that sweet, sinuous sauce atop my freshly made beautiful, beautiful balls. Accompanied by a heavenly fresh spring mix tossed with a tantalizingly sweet balsamic vinaigrette.

Meatball Sandwich | Photo by Laura Lim

If I owned this place, I would sell meatballs out front lemonade stand-style. I would dress like a meatball and dance on the corner, make t-shirts bragging, “But we’ve got the biggest balls of them all!” I have found my balls and want to share them with you! Have a ball!

Photo by Laura Lim

Photo by Laura Lim

Location: 1175 Solano Ave. Albany, CA 94706
Hours of Operation: Monday-Sunday 11:30 am – 10 pm

The post The Best Balls in Berkeley! (Meatballs, that is) originally appeared on Spoon University. Please visit Spoon University to see more posts like this one.


10 of the best meatball recipes, from kofta to buffalo balls

I don’t have the evidence to back this up, but I am convinced that meatballs are the greatest food on the planet. There is a reason why so many countries have their own variations on the dish (Turkey alone has at least 291 versions): because they are simple, comforting and incredibly versatile. There are a million ways to eat meatballs. You can eat them with pasta. You can eat them with soup. You can eat them stuffed into floppy shop-bought sandwiches at 2am, in a panicked attempt to sober up before you get home. Below are 10 of the best meatball recipes, but these are a drop in the ocean. If you know a better one, it is your duty to share it in the comments.

We should start with what can only be described as empirically good meatballs. When Felicity Cloake took the dish head-on in 2011, she concluded that you would be a fool to mess with simplicity. Hers is a classic meatball: a mixture of pork and beef, bulked out with milk-soaked bread and flavoured with fennel and parsley. It is impossible to go wrong with this.

Simple but effective . Felicity Cloake’s perfect meatballs. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

But don’t forget that meatballs can also be decadent – and that is where Tom Hunt comes in. His cotechino meatballs come with a colossal thwack of porkiness, thanks to the inclusion of pork mince, streaky bacon and pork rind. The third of this trio is often viewed as a waste product, so it may be hard to come by. However, as Hunt says, “most butchers will happily set some aside and sell it to you”.

For a beefier option, Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe is inspired by Jerusalem. “Until quite recently, most of the city’s residents were relatively poor and so unable to afford whole cuts of meat,” he writes. “By adding starch, spices and herbs to what meat they could get their hands on, they managed to make it go much further.” This version, spiked with lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and smoked paprika, is powerful and decadent.

Beefed up . Yotam Ottolenghi’s meatballs with lemon and celeriac. Photograph: Colin Campbell/The Guardian

Let’s venture off-piste. Although there is a chance this may prompt mass fainting among meatball purists, Delish’s Lauren Miyashiro has a recipe for cheese-stuffed meatballs. It has the same bones as Cloake’s recipe, albeit gussied up by the addition of – yes – chopped-up Cheesestrings in the centre. Unorthodox, perhaps, but pleasingly filthy.

In a similar vein, I Breathe I’m Hungry has a recipe for buffalo balls. The base is turkey mince, but the addition of cream cheese and blue cheese – not to mention the sauce, which comprises butter and hot sauce – pushes this into the realms of Man v Food. These meatballs also happen to be low-carb and gluten free, but don’t be fooled. This is the opposite of health food.

Dangerously decadent . Louisiana-style boudin balls. Photograph: Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Louisiana boudin sausage, while incredible, can be hard to track down. Luckily, it is a little easier to make it in the form of a meatball it is essentially pork shoulder, chicken liver, white rice and cayenne pepper, breaded and deep-fried and served with remoulade. Make it every day and you would probably be dead by Easter, but, as a great big dish to share among friends once in a while, it cannot be beaten.

Clearly, a list of the best meatballs would be incomplete without any mention of kofta – a dish with enough variation to warrant a list of its own. While I am a big fan of the nargisi, because it is essentially a scotch egg, I will pitch this one closer to the centre ground. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a kofta recipe made with equal parts lamb and beef. The meatballs also freeze well, so it may be worth making a double batch.

Good fresh or frozen . lamb kofta with flatbread. Photograph: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images

Just because they have the word “meat” in the title, vegetarians should not feel as if they have to shun the meatball. Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute vegetarian meatballs count cauliflower and quinoa as their primary ingredients, blended down and mixed with breadcrumbs and egg. The result is an extremely versatile starting point that works equally well whatever herbs or spices you add. Nor should vegans feel excluded. Esther Clark’s vegan meatballs are made with mushrooms and bound together with a mixture of food-processed black beans and oats.

Finally, it is my firm belief that, if you are going to do meatballs properly, then they should stretch beyond the main course. Pies and Plots has a recipe for brownie meatballs, which – spoiler alert – is basically brownies rolled up into balls. Theirs comes with spaghetti made of icing and a “tomato” sauce made of cherries, but whatever: it is a rolled-up chocolate brownie. Some things are not worth arguing about.


10 of the best meatball recipes, from kofta to buffalo balls

I don’t have the evidence to back this up, but I am convinced that meatballs are the greatest food on the planet. There is a reason why so many countries have their own variations on the dish (Turkey alone has at least 291 versions): because they are simple, comforting and incredibly versatile. There are a million ways to eat meatballs. You can eat them with pasta. You can eat them with soup. You can eat them stuffed into floppy shop-bought sandwiches at 2am, in a panicked attempt to sober up before you get home. Below are 10 of the best meatball recipes, but these are a drop in the ocean. If you know a better one, it is your duty to share it in the comments.

We should start with what can only be described as empirically good meatballs. When Felicity Cloake took the dish head-on in 2011, she concluded that you would be a fool to mess with simplicity. Hers is a classic meatball: a mixture of pork and beef, bulked out with milk-soaked bread and flavoured with fennel and parsley. It is impossible to go wrong with this.

Simple but effective . Felicity Cloake’s perfect meatballs. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

But don’t forget that meatballs can also be decadent – and that is where Tom Hunt comes in. His cotechino meatballs come with a colossal thwack of porkiness, thanks to the inclusion of pork mince, streaky bacon and pork rind. The third of this trio is often viewed as a waste product, so it may be hard to come by. However, as Hunt says, “most butchers will happily set some aside and sell it to you”.

For a beefier option, Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe is inspired by Jerusalem. “Until quite recently, most of the city’s residents were relatively poor and so unable to afford whole cuts of meat,” he writes. “By adding starch, spices and herbs to what meat they could get their hands on, they managed to make it go much further.” This version, spiked with lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and smoked paprika, is powerful and decadent.

Beefed up . Yotam Ottolenghi’s meatballs with lemon and celeriac. Photograph: Colin Campbell/The Guardian

Let’s venture off-piste. Although there is a chance this may prompt mass fainting among meatball purists, Delish’s Lauren Miyashiro has a recipe for cheese-stuffed meatballs. It has the same bones as Cloake’s recipe, albeit gussied up by the addition of – yes – chopped-up Cheesestrings in the centre. Unorthodox, perhaps, but pleasingly filthy.

In a similar vein, I Breathe I’m Hungry has a recipe for buffalo balls. The base is turkey mince, but the addition of cream cheese and blue cheese – not to mention the sauce, which comprises butter and hot sauce – pushes this into the realms of Man v Food. These meatballs also happen to be low-carb and gluten free, but don’t be fooled. This is the opposite of health food.

Dangerously decadent . Louisiana-style boudin balls. Photograph: Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Louisiana boudin sausage, while incredible, can be hard to track down. Luckily, it is a little easier to make it in the form of a meatball it is essentially pork shoulder, chicken liver, white rice and cayenne pepper, breaded and deep-fried and served with remoulade. Make it every day and you would probably be dead by Easter, but, as a great big dish to share among friends once in a while, it cannot be beaten.

Clearly, a list of the best meatballs would be incomplete without any mention of kofta – a dish with enough variation to warrant a list of its own. While I am a big fan of the nargisi, because it is essentially a scotch egg, I will pitch this one closer to the centre ground. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a kofta recipe made with equal parts lamb and beef. The meatballs also freeze well, so it may be worth making a double batch.

Good fresh or frozen . lamb kofta with flatbread. Photograph: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images

Just because they have the word “meat” in the title, vegetarians should not feel as if they have to shun the meatball. Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute vegetarian meatballs count cauliflower and quinoa as their primary ingredients, blended down and mixed with breadcrumbs and egg. The result is an extremely versatile starting point that works equally well whatever herbs or spices you add. Nor should vegans feel excluded. Esther Clark’s vegan meatballs are made with mushrooms and bound together with a mixture of food-processed black beans and oats.

Finally, it is my firm belief that, if you are going to do meatballs properly, then they should stretch beyond the main course. Pies and Plots has a recipe for brownie meatballs, which – spoiler alert – is basically brownies rolled up into balls. Theirs comes with spaghetti made of icing and a “tomato” sauce made of cherries, but whatever: it is a rolled-up chocolate brownie. Some things are not worth arguing about.


10 of the best meatball recipes, from kofta to buffalo balls

I don’t have the evidence to back this up, but I am convinced that meatballs are the greatest food on the planet. There is a reason why so many countries have their own variations on the dish (Turkey alone has at least 291 versions): because they are simple, comforting and incredibly versatile. There are a million ways to eat meatballs. You can eat them with pasta. You can eat them with soup. You can eat them stuffed into floppy shop-bought sandwiches at 2am, in a panicked attempt to sober up before you get home. Below are 10 of the best meatball recipes, but these are a drop in the ocean. If you know a better one, it is your duty to share it in the comments.

We should start with what can only be described as empirically good meatballs. When Felicity Cloake took the dish head-on in 2011, she concluded that you would be a fool to mess with simplicity. Hers is a classic meatball: a mixture of pork and beef, bulked out with milk-soaked bread and flavoured with fennel and parsley. It is impossible to go wrong with this.

Simple but effective . Felicity Cloake’s perfect meatballs. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

But don’t forget that meatballs can also be decadent – and that is where Tom Hunt comes in. His cotechino meatballs come with a colossal thwack of porkiness, thanks to the inclusion of pork mince, streaky bacon and pork rind. The third of this trio is often viewed as a waste product, so it may be hard to come by. However, as Hunt says, “most butchers will happily set some aside and sell it to you”.

For a beefier option, Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe is inspired by Jerusalem. “Until quite recently, most of the city’s residents were relatively poor and so unable to afford whole cuts of meat,” he writes. “By adding starch, spices and herbs to what meat they could get their hands on, they managed to make it go much further.” This version, spiked with lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and smoked paprika, is powerful and decadent.

Beefed up . Yotam Ottolenghi’s meatballs with lemon and celeriac. Photograph: Colin Campbell/The Guardian

Let’s venture off-piste. Although there is a chance this may prompt mass fainting among meatball purists, Delish’s Lauren Miyashiro has a recipe for cheese-stuffed meatballs. It has the same bones as Cloake’s recipe, albeit gussied up by the addition of – yes – chopped-up Cheesestrings in the centre. Unorthodox, perhaps, but pleasingly filthy.

In a similar vein, I Breathe I’m Hungry has a recipe for buffalo balls. The base is turkey mince, but the addition of cream cheese and blue cheese – not to mention the sauce, which comprises butter and hot sauce – pushes this into the realms of Man v Food. These meatballs also happen to be low-carb and gluten free, but don’t be fooled. This is the opposite of health food.

Dangerously decadent . Louisiana-style boudin balls. Photograph: Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Louisiana boudin sausage, while incredible, can be hard to track down. Luckily, it is a little easier to make it in the form of a meatball it is essentially pork shoulder, chicken liver, white rice and cayenne pepper, breaded and deep-fried and served with remoulade. Make it every day and you would probably be dead by Easter, but, as a great big dish to share among friends once in a while, it cannot be beaten.

Clearly, a list of the best meatballs would be incomplete without any mention of kofta – a dish with enough variation to warrant a list of its own. While I am a big fan of the nargisi, because it is essentially a scotch egg, I will pitch this one closer to the centre ground. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a kofta recipe made with equal parts lamb and beef. The meatballs also freeze well, so it may be worth making a double batch.

Good fresh or frozen . lamb kofta with flatbread. Photograph: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images

Just because they have the word “meat” in the title, vegetarians should not feel as if they have to shun the meatball. Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute vegetarian meatballs count cauliflower and quinoa as their primary ingredients, blended down and mixed with breadcrumbs and egg. The result is an extremely versatile starting point that works equally well whatever herbs or spices you add. Nor should vegans feel excluded. Esther Clark’s vegan meatballs are made with mushrooms and bound together with a mixture of food-processed black beans and oats.

Finally, it is my firm belief that, if you are going to do meatballs properly, then they should stretch beyond the main course. Pies and Plots has a recipe for brownie meatballs, which – spoiler alert – is basically brownies rolled up into balls. Theirs comes with spaghetti made of icing and a “tomato” sauce made of cherries, but whatever: it is a rolled-up chocolate brownie. Some things are not worth arguing about.


10 of the best meatball recipes, from kofta to buffalo balls

I don’t have the evidence to back this up, but I am convinced that meatballs are the greatest food on the planet. There is a reason why so many countries have their own variations on the dish (Turkey alone has at least 291 versions): because they are simple, comforting and incredibly versatile. There are a million ways to eat meatballs. You can eat them with pasta. You can eat them with soup. You can eat them stuffed into floppy shop-bought sandwiches at 2am, in a panicked attempt to sober up before you get home. Below are 10 of the best meatball recipes, but these are a drop in the ocean. If you know a better one, it is your duty to share it in the comments.

We should start with what can only be described as empirically good meatballs. When Felicity Cloake took the dish head-on in 2011, she concluded that you would be a fool to mess with simplicity. Hers is a classic meatball: a mixture of pork and beef, bulked out with milk-soaked bread and flavoured with fennel and parsley. It is impossible to go wrong with this.

Simple but effective . Felicity Cloake’s perfect meatballs. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

But don’t forget that meatballs can also be decadent – and that is where Tom Hunt comes in. His cotechino meatballs come with a colossal thwack of porkiness, thanks to the inclusion of pork mince, streaky bacon and pork rind. The third of this trio is often viewed as a waste product, so it may be hard to come by. However, as Hunt says, “most butchers will happily set some aside and sell it to you”.

For a beefier option, Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe is inspired by Jerusalem. “Until quite recently, most of the city’s residents were relatively poor and so unable to afford whole cuts of meat,” he writes. “By adding starch, spices and herbs to what meat they could get their hands on, they managed to make it go much further.” This version, spiked with lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and smoked paprika, is powerful and decadent.

Beefed up . Yotam Ottolenghi’s meatballs with lemon and celeriac. Photograph: Colin Campbell/The Guardian

Let’s venture off-piste. Although there is a chance this may prompt mass fainting among meatball purists, Delish’s Lauren Miyashiro has a recipe for cheese-stuffed meatballs. It has the same bones as Cloake’s recipe, albeit gussied up by the addition of – yes – chopped-up Cheesestrings in the centre. Unorthodox, perhaps, but pleasingly filthy.

In a similar vein, I Breathe I’m Hungry has a recipe for buffalo balls. The base is turkey mince, but the addition of cream cheese and blue cheese – not to mention the sauce, which comprises butter and hot sauce – pushes this into the realms of Man v Food. These meatballs also happen to be low-carb and gluten free, but don’t be fooled. This is the opposite of health food.

Dangerously decadent . Louisiana-style boudin balls. Photograph: Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Louisiana boudin sausage, while incredible, can be hard to track down. Luckily, it is a little easier to make it in the form of a meatball it is essentially pork shoulder, chicken liver, white rice and cayenne pepper, breaded and deep-fried and served with remoulade. Make it every day and you would probably be dead by Easter, but, as a great big dish to share among friends once in a while, it cannot be beaten.

Clearly, a list of the best meatballs would be incomplete without any mention of kofta – a dish with enough variation to warrant a list of its own. While I am a big fan of the nargisi, because it is essentially a scotch egg, I will pitch this one closer to the centre ground. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a kofta recipe made with equal parts lamb and beef. The meatballs also freeze well, so it may be worth making a double batch.

Good fresh or frozen . lamb kofta with flatbread. Photograph: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images

Just because they have the word “meat” in the title, vegetarians should not feel as if they have to shun the meatball. Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute vegetarian meatballs count cauliflower and quinoa as their primary ingredients, blended down and mixed with breadcrumbs and egg. The result is an extremely versatile starting point that works equally well whatever herbs or spices you add. Nor should vegans feel excluded. Esther Clark’s vegan meatballs are made with mushrooms and bound together with a mixture of food-processed black beans and oats.

Finally, it is my firm belief that, if you are going to do meatballs properly, then they should stretch beyond the main course. Pies and Plots has a recipe for brownie meatballs, which – spoiler alert – is basically brownies rolled up into balls. Theirs comes with spaghetti made of icing and a “tomato” sauce made of cherries, but whatever: it is a rolled-up chocolate brownie. Some things are not worth arguing about.


10 of the best meatball recipes, from kofta to buffalo balls

I don’t have the evidence to back this up, but I am convinced that meatballs are the greatest food on the planet. There is a reason why so many countries have their own variations on the dish (Turkey alone has at least 291 versions): because they are simple, comforting and incredibly versatile. There are a million ways to eat meatballs. You can eat them with pasta. You can eat them with soup. You can eat them stuffed into floppy shop-bought sandwiches at 2am, in a panicked attempt to sober up before you get home. Below are 10 of the best meatball recipes, but these are a drop in the ocean. If you know a better one, it is your duty to share it in the comments.

We should start with what can only be described as empirically good meatballs. When Felicity Cloake took the dish head-on in 2011, she concluded that you would be a fool to mess with simplicity. Hers is a classic meatball: a mixture of pork and beef, bulked out with milk-soaked bread and flavoured with fennel and parsley. It is impossible to go wrong with this.

Simple but effective . Felicity Cloake’s perfect meatballs. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

But don’t forget that meatballs can also be decadent – and that is where Tom Hunt comes in. His cotechino meatballs come with a colossal thwack of porkiness, thanks to the inclusion of pork mince, streaky bacon and pork rind. The third of this trio is often viewed as a waste product, so it may be hard to come by. However, as Hunt says, “most butchers will happily set some aside and sell it to you”.

For a beefier option, Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe is inspired by Jerusalem. “Until quite recently, most of the city’s residents were relatively poor and so unable to afford whole cuts of meat,” he writes. “By adding starch, spices and herbs to what meat they could get their hands on, they managed to make it go much further.” This version, spiked with lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and smoked paprika, is powerful and decadent.

Beefed up . Yotam Ottolenghi’s meatballs with lemon and celeriac. Photograph: Colin Campbell/The Guardian

Let’s venture off-piste. Although there is a chance this may prompt mass fainting among meatball purists, Delish’s Lauren Miyashiro has a recipe for cheese-stuffed meatballs. It has the same bones as Cloake’s recipe, albeit gussied up by the addition of – yes – chopped-up Cheesestrings in the centre. Unorthodox, perhaps, but pleasingly filthy.

In a similar vein, I Breathe I’m Hungry has a recipe for buffalo balls. The base is turkey mince, but the addition of cream cheese and blue cheese – not to mention the sauce, which comprises butter and hot sauce – pushes this into the realms of Man v Food. These meatballs also happen to be low-carb and gluten free, but don’t be fooled. This is the opposite of health food.

Dangerously decadent . Louisiana-style boudin balls. Photograph: Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Louisiana boudin sausage, while incredible, can be hard to track down. Luckily, it is a little easier to make it in the form of a meatball it is essentially pork shoulder, chicken liver, white rice and cayenne pepper, breaded and deep-fried and served with remoulade. Make it every day and you would probably be dead by Easter, but, as a great big dish to share among friends once in a while, it cannot be beaten.

Clearly, a list of the best meatballs would be incomplete without any mention of kofta – a dish with enough variation to warrant a list of its own. While I am a big fan of the nargisi, because it is essentially a scotch egg, I will pitch this one closer to the centre ground. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a kofta recipe made with equal parts lamb and beef. The meatballs also freeze well, so it may be worth making a double batch.

Good fresh or frozen . lamb kofta with flatbread. Photograph: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images

Just because they have the word “meat” in the title, vegetarians should not feel as if they have to shun the meatball. Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute vegetarian meatballs count cauliflower and quinoa as their primary ingredients, blended down and mixed with breadcrumbs and egg. The result is an extremely versatile starting point that works equally well whatever herbs or spices you add. Nor should vegans feel excluded. Esther Clark’s vegan meatballs are made with mushrooms and bound together with a mixture of food-processed black beans and oats.

Finally, it is my firm belief that, if you are going to do meatballs properly, then they should stretch beyond the main course. Pies and Plots has a recipe for brownie meatballs, which – spoiler alert – is basically brownies rolled up into balls. Theirs comes with spaghetti made of icing and a “tomato” sauce made of cherries, but whatever: it is a rolled-up chocolate brownie. Some things are not worth arguing about.


10 of the best meatball recipes, from kofta to buffalo balls

I don’t have the evidence to back this up, but I am convinced that meatballs are the greatest food on the planet. There is a reason why so many countries have their own variations on the dish (Turkey alone has at least 291 versions): because they are simple, comforting and incredibly versatile. There are a million ways to eat meatballs. You can eat them with pasta. You can eat them with soup. You can eat them stuffed into floppy shop-bought sandwiches at 2am, in a panicked attempt to sober up before you get home. Below are 10 of the best meatball recipes, but these are a drop in the ocean. If you know a better one, it is your duty to share it in the comments.

We should start with what can only be described as empirically good meatballs. When Felicity Cloake took the dish head-on in 2011, she concluded that you would be a fool to mess with simplicity. Hers is a classic meatball: a mixture of pork and beef, bulked out with milk-soaked bread and flavoured with fennel and parsley. It is impossible to go wrong with this.

Simple but effective . Felicity Cloake’s perfect meatballs. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

But don’t forget that meatballs can also be decadent – and that is where Tom Hunt comes in. His cotechino meatballs come with a colossal thwack of porkiness, thanks to the inclusion of pork mince, streaky bacon and pork rind. The third of this trio is often viewed as a waste product, so it may be hard to come by. However, as Hunt says, “most butchers will happily set some aside and sell it to you”.

For a beefier option, Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe is inspired by Jerusalem. “Until quite recently, most of the city’s residents were relatively poor and so unable to afford whole cuts of meat,” he writes. “By adding starch, spices and herbs to what meat they could get their hands on, they managed to make it go much further.” This version, spiked with lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and smoked paprika, is powerful and decadent.

Beefed up . Yotam Ottolenghi’s meatballs with lemon and celeriac. Photograph: Colin Campbell/The Guardian

Let’s venture off-piste. Although there is a chance this may prompt mass fainting among meatball purists, Delish’s Lauren Miyashiro has a recipe for cheese-stuffed meatballs. It has the same bones as Cloake’s recipe, albeit gussied up by the addition of – yes – chopped-up Cheesestrings in the centre. Unorthodox, perhaps, but pleasingly filthy.

In a similar vein, I Breathe I’m Hungry has a recipe for buffalo balls. The base is turkey mince, but the addition of cream cheese and blue cheese – not to mention the sauce, which comprises butter and hot sauce – pushes this into the realms of Man v Food. These meatballs also happen to be low-carb and gluten free, but don’t be fooled. This is the opposite of health food.

Dangerously decadent . Louisiana-style boudin balls. Photograph: Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Louisiana boudin sausage, while incredible, can be hard to track down. Luckily, it is a little easier to make it in the form of a meatball it is essentially pork shoulder, chicken liver, white rice and cayenne pepper, breaded and deep-fried and served with remoulade. Make it every day and you would probably be dead by Easter, but, as a great big dish to share among friends once in a while, it cannot be beaten.

Clearly, a list of the best meatballs would be incomplete without any mention of kofta – a dish with enough variation to warrant a list of its own. While I am a big fan of the nargisi, because it is essentially a scotch egg, I will pitch this one closer to the centre ground. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a kofta recipe made with equal parts lamb and beef. The meatballs also freeze well, so it may be worth making a double batch.

Good fresh or frozen . lamb kofta with flatbread. Photograph: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images

Just because they have the word “meat” in the title, vegetarians should not feel as if they have to shun the meatball. Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute vegetarian meatballs count cauliflower and quinoa as their primary ingredients, blended down and mixed with breadcrumbs and egg. The result is an extremely versatile starting point that works equally well whatever herbs or spices you add. Nor should vegans feel excluded. Esther Clark’s vegan meatballs are made with mushrooms and bound together with a mixture of food-processed black beans and oats.

Finally, it is my firm belief that, if you are going to do meatballs properly, then they should stretch beyond the main course. Pies and Plots has a recipe for brownie meatballs, which – spoiler alert – is basically brownies rolled up into balls. Theirs comes with spaghetti made of icing and a “tomato” sauce made of cherries, but whatever: it is a rolled-up chocolate brownie. Some things are not worth arguing about.


10 of the best meatball recipes, from kofta to buffalo balls

I don’t have the evidence to back this up, but I am convinced that meatballs are the greatest food on the planet. There is a reason why so many countries have their own variations on the dish (Turkey alone has at least 291 versions): because they are simple, comforting and incredibly versatile. There are a million ways to eat meatballs. You can eat them with pasta. You can eat them with soup. You can eat them stuffed into floppy shop-bought sandwiches at 2am, in a panicked attempt to sober up before you get home. Below are 10 of the best meatball recipes, but these are a drop in the ocean. If you know a better one, it is your duty to share it in the comments.

We should start with what can only be described as empirically good meatballs. When Felicity Cloake took the dish head-on in 2011, she concluded that you would be a fool to mess with simplicity. Hers is a classic meatball: a mixture of pork and beef, bulked out with milk-soaked bread and flavoured with fennel and parsley. It is impossible to go wrong with this.

Simple but effective . Felicity Cloake’s perfect meatballs. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

But don’t forget that meatballs can also be decadent – and that is where Tom Hunt comes in. His cotechino meatballs come with a colossal thwack of porkiness, thanks to the inclusion of pork mince, streaky bacon and pork rind. The third of this trio is often viewed as a waste product, so it may be hard to come by. However, as Hunt says, “most butchers will happily set some aside and sell it to you”.

For a beefier option, Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe is inspired by Jerusalem. “Until quite recently, most of the city’s residents were relatively poor and so unable to afford whole cuts of meat,” he writes. “By adding starch, spices and herbs to what meat they could get their hands on, they managed to make it go much further.” This version, spiked with lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and smoked paprika, is powerful and decadent.

Beefed up . Yotam Ottolenghi’s meatballs with lemon and celeriac. Photograph: Colin Campbell/The Guardian

Let’s venture off-piste. Although there is a chance this may prompt mass fainting among meatball purists, Delish’s Lauren Miyashiro has a recipe for cheese-stuffed meatballs. It has the same bones as Cloake’s recipe, albeit gussied up by the addition of – yes – chopped-up Cheesestrings in the centre. Unorthodox, perhaps, but pleasingly filthy.

In a similar vein, I Breathe I’m Hungry has a recipe for buffalo balls. The base is turkey mince, but the addition of cream cheese and blue cheese – not to mention the sauce, which comprises butter and hot sauce – pushes this into the realms of Man v Food. These meatballs also happen to be low-carb and gluten free, but don’t be fooled. This is the opposite of health food.

Dangerously decadent . Louisiana-style boudin balls. Photograph: Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Louisiana boudin sausage, while incredible, can be hard to track down. Luckily, it is a little easier to make it in the form of a meatball it is essentially pork shoulder, chicken liver, white rice and cayenne pepper, breaded and deep-fried and served with remoulade. Make it every day and you would probably be dead by Easter, but, as a great big dish to share among friends once in a while, it cannot be beaten.

Clearly, a list of the best meatballs would be incomplete without any mention of kofta – a dish with enough variation to warrant a list of its own. While I am a big fan of the nargisi, because it is essentially a scotch egg, I will pitch this one closer to the centre ground. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a kofta recipe made with equal parts lamb and beef. The meatballs also freeze well, so it may be worth making a double batch.

Good fresh or frozen . lamb kofta with flatbread. Photograph: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images

Just because they have the word “meat” in the title, vegetarians should not feel as if they have to shun the meatball. Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute vegetarian meatballs count cauliflower and quinoa as their primary ingredients, blended down and mixed with breadcrumbs and egg. The result is an extremely versatile starting point that works equally well whatever herbs or spices you add. Nor should vegans feel excluded. Esther Clark’s vegan meatballs are made with mushrooms and bound together with a mixture of food-processed black beans and oats.

Finally, it is my firm belief that, if you are going to do meatballs properly, then they should stretch beyond the main course. Pies and Plots has a recipe for brownie meatballs, which – spoiler alert – is basically brownies rolled up into balls. Theirs comes with spaghetti made of icing and a “tomato” sauce made of cherries, but whatever: it is a rolled-up chocolate brownie. Some things are not worth arguing about.


10 of the best meatball recipes, from kofta to buffalo balls

I don’t have the evidence to back this up, but I am convinced that meatballs are the greatest food on the planet. There is a reason why so many countries have their own variations on the dish (Turkey alone has at least 291 versions): because they are simple, comforting and incredibly versatile. There are a million ways to eat meatballs. You can eat them with pasta. You can eat them with soup. You can eat them stuffed into floppy shop-bought sandwiches at 2am, in a panicked attempt to sober up before you get home. Below are 10 of the best meatball recipes, but these are a drop in the ocean. If you know a better one, it is your duty to share it in the comments.

We should start with what can only be described as empirically good meatballs. When Felicity Cloake took the dish head-on in 2011, she concluded that you would be a fool to mess with simplicity. Hers is a classic meatball: a mixture of pork and beef, bulked out with milk-soaked bread and flavoured with fennel and parsley. It is impossible to go wrong with this.

Simple but effective . Felicity Cloake’s perfect meatballs. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

But don’t forget that meatballs can also be decadent – and that is where Tom Hunt comes in. His cotechino meatballs come with a colossal thwack of porkiness, thanks to the inclusion of pork mince, streaky bacon and pork rind. The third of this trio is often viewed as a waste product, so it may be hard to come by. However, as Hunt says, “most butchers will happily set some aside and sell it to you”.

For a beefier option, Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe is inspired by Jerusalem. “Until quite recently, most of the city’s residents were relatively poor and so unable to afford whole cuts of meat,” he writes. “By adding starch, spices and herbs to what meat they could get their hands on, they managed to make it go much further.” This version, spiked with lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and smoked paprika, is powerful and decadent.

Beefed up . Yotam Ottolenghi’s meatballs with lemon and celeriac. Photograph: Colin Campbell/The Guardian

Let’s venture off-piste. Although there is a chance this may prompt mass fainting among meatball purists, Delish’s Lauren Miyashiro has a recipe for cheese-stuffed meatballs. It has the same bones as Cloake’s recipe, albeit gussied up by the addition of – yes – chopped-up Cheesestrings in the centre. Unorthodox, perhaps, but pleasingly filthy.

In a similar vein, I Breathe I’m Hungry has a recipe for buffalo balls. The base is turkey mince, but the addition of cream cheese and blue cheese – not to mention the sauce, which comprises butter and hot sauce – pushes this into the realms of Man v Food. These meatballs also happen to be low-carb and gluten free, but don’t be fooled. This is the opposite of health food.

Dangerously decadent . Louisiana-style boudin balls. Photograph: Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Louisiana boudin sausage, while incredible, can be hard to track down. Luckily, it is a little easier to make it in the form of a meatball it is essentially pork shoulder, chicken liver, white rice and cayenne pepper, breaded and deep-fried and served with remoulade. Make it every day and you would probably be dead by Easter, but, as a great big dish to share among friends once in a while, it cannot be beaten.

Clearly, a list of the best meatballs would be incomplete without any mention of kofta – a dish with enough variation to warrant a list of its own. While I am a big fan of the nargisi, because it is essentially a scotch egg, I will pitch this one closer to the centre ground. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a kofta recipe made with equal parts lamb and beef. The meatballs also freeze well, so it may be worth making a double batch.

Good fresh or frozen . lamb kofta with flatbread. Photograph: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images

Just because they have the word “meat” in the title, vegetarians should not feel as if they have to shun the meatball. Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute vegetarian meatballs count cauliflower and quinoa as their primary ingredients, blended down and mixed with breadcrumbs and egg. The result is an extremely versatile starting point that works equally well whatever herbs or spices you add. Nor should vegans feel excluded. Esther Clark’s vegan meatballs are made with mushrooms and bound together with a mixture of food-processed black beans and oats.

Finally, it is my firm belief that, if you are going to do meatballs properly, then they should stretch beyond the main course. Pies and Plots has a recipe for brownie meatballs, which – spoiler alert – is basically brownies rolled up into balls. Theirs comes with spaghetti made of icing and a “tomato” sauce made of cherries, but whatever: it is a rolled-up chocolate brownie. Some things are not worth arguing about.


10 of the best meatball recipes, from kofta to buffalo balls

I don’t have the evidence to back this up, but I am convinced that meatballs are the greatest food on the planet. There is a reason why so many countries have their own variations on the dish (Turkey alone has at least 291 versions): because they are simple, comforting and incredibly versatile. There are a million ways to eat meatballs. You can eat them with pasta. You can eat them with soup. You can eat them stuffed into floppy shop-bought sandwiches at 2am, in a panicked attempt to sober up before you get home. Below are 10 of the best meatball recipes, but these are a drop in the ocean. If you know a better one, it is your duty to share it in the comments.

We should start with what can only be described as empirically good meatballs. When Felicity Cloake took the dish head-on in 2011, she concluded that you would be a fool to mess with simplicity. Hers is a classic meatball: a mixture of pork and beef, bulked out with milk-soaked bread and flavoured with fennel and parsley. It is impossible to go wrong with this.

Simple but effective . Felicity Cloake’s perfect meatballs. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

But don’t forget that meatballs can also be decadent – and that is where Tom Hunt comes in. His cotechino meatballs come with a colossal thwack of porkiness, thanks to the inclusion of pork mince, streaky bacon and pork rind. The third of this trio is often viewed as a waste product, so it may be hard to come by. However, as Hunt says, “most butchers will happily set some aside and sell it to you”.

For a beefier option, Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe is inspired by Jerusalem. “Until quite recently, most of the city’s residents were relatively poor and so unable to afford whole cuts of meat,” he writes. “By adding starch, spices and herbs to what meat they could get their hands on, they managed to make it go much further.” This version, spiked with lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and smoked paprika, is powerful and decadent.

Beefed up . Yotam Ottolenghi’s meatballs with lemon and celeriac. Photograph: Colin Campbell/The Guardian

Let’s venture off-piste. Although there is a chance this may prompt mass fainting among meatball purists, Delish’s Lauren Miyashiro has a recipe for cheese-stuffed meatballs. It has the same bones as Cloake’s recipe, albeit gussied up by the addition of – yes – chopped-up Cheesestrings in the centre. Unorthodox, perhaps, but pleasingly filthy.

In a similar vein, I Breathe I’m Hungry has a recipe for buffalo balls. The base is turkey mince, but the addition of cream cheese and blue cheese – not to mention the sauce, which comprises butter and hot sauce – pushes this into the realms of Man v Food. These meatballs also happen to be low-carb and gluten free, but don’t be fooled. This is the opposite of health food.

Dangerously decadent . Louisiana-style boudin balls. Photograph: Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Louisiana boudin sausage, while incredible, can be hard to track down. Luckily, it is a little easier to make it in the form of a meatball it is essentially pork shoulder, chicken liver, white rice and cayenne pepper, breaded and deep-fried and served with remoulade. Make it every day and you would probably be dead by Easter, but, as a great big dish to share among friends once in a while, it cannot be beaten.

Clearly, a list of the best meatballs would be incomplete without any mention of kofta – a dish with enough variation to warrant a list of its own. While I am a big fan of the nargisi, because it is essentially a scotch egg, I will pitch this one closer to the centre ground. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a kofta recipe made with equal parts lamb and beef. The meatballs also freeze well, so it may be worth making a double batch.

Good fresh or frozen . lamb kofta with flatbread. Photograph: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images

Just because they have the word “meat” in the title, vegetarians should not feel as if they have to shun the meatball. Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute vegetarian meatballs count cauliflower and quinoa as their primary ingredients, blended down and mixed with breadcrumbs and egg. The result is an extremely versatile starting point that works equally well whatever herbs or spices you add. Nor should vegans feel excluded. Esther Clark’s vegan meatballs are made with mushrooms and bound together with a mixture of food-processed black beans and oats.

Finally, it is my firm belief that, if you are going to do meatballs properly, then they should stretch beyond the main course. Pies and Plots has a recipe for brownie meatballs, which – spoiler alert – is basically brownies rolled up into balls. Theirs comes with spaghetti made of icing and a “tomato” sauce made of cherries, but whatever: it is a rolled-up chocolate brownie. Some things are not worth arguing about.


10 of the best meatball recipes, from kofta to buffalo balls

I don’t have the evidence to back this up, but I am convinced that meatballs are the greatest food on the planet. There is a reason why so many countries have their own variations on the dish (Turkey alone has at least 291 versions): because they are simple, comforting and incredibly versatile. There are a million ways to eat meatballs. You can eat them with pasta. You can eat them with soup. You can eat them stuffed into floppy shop-bought sandwiches at 2am, in a panicked attempt to sober up before you get home. Below are 10 of the best meatball recipes, but these are a drop in the ocean. If you know a better one, it is your duty to share it in the comments.

We should start with what can only be described as empirically good meatballs. When Felicity Cloake took the dish head-on in 2011, she concluded that you would be a fool to mess with simplicity. Hers is a classic meatball: a mixture of pork and beef, bulked out with milk-soaked bread and flavoured with fennel and parsley. It is impossible to go wrong with this.

Simple but effective . Felicity Cloake’s perfect meatballs. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

But don’t forget that meatballs can also be decadent – and that is where Tom Hunt comes in. His cotechino meatballs come with a colossal thwack of porkiness, thanks to the inclusion of pork mince, streaky bacon and pork rind. The third of this trio is often viewed as a waste product, so it may be hard to come by. However, as Hunt says, “most butchers will happily set some aside and sell it to you”.

For a beefier option, Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipe is inspired by Jerusalem. “Until quite recently, most of the city’s residents were relatively poor and so unable to afford whole cuts of meat,” he writes. “By adding starch, spices and herbs to what meat they could get their hands on, they managed to make it go much further.” This version, spiked with lemon juice, turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon and smoked paprika, is powerful and decadent.

Beefed up . Yotam Ottolenghi’s meatballs with lemon and celeriac. Photograph: Colin Campbell/The Guardian

Let’s venture off-piste. Although there is a chance this may prompt mass fainting among meatball purists, Delish’s Lauren Miyashiro has a recipe for cheese-stuffed meatballs. It has the same bones as Cloake’s recipe, albeit gussied up by the addition of – yes – chopped-up Cheesestrings in the centre. Unorthodox, perhaps, but pleasingly filthy.

In a similar vein, I Breathe I’m Hungry has a recipe for buffalo balls. The base is turkey mince, but the addition of cream cheese and blue cheese – not to mention the sauce, which comprises butter and hot sauce – pushes this into the realms of Man v Food. These meatballs also happen to be low-carb and gluten free, but don’t be fooled. This is the opposite of health food.

Dangerously decadent . Louisiana-style boudin balls. Photograph: Patrick Donovan/Getty Images

Louisiana boudin sausage, while incredible, can be hard to track down. Luckily, it is a little easier to make it in the form of a meatball it is essentially pork shoulder, chicken liver, white rice and cayenne pepper, breaded and deep-fried and served with remoulade. Make it every day and you would probably be dead by Easter, but, as a great big dish to share among friends once in a while, it cannot be beaten.

Clearly, a list of the best meatballs would be incomplete without any mention of kofta – a dish with enough variation to warrant a list of its own. While I am a big fan of the nargisi, because it is essentially a scotch egg, I will pitch this one closer to the centre ground. Ozlem’s Turkish Table has a kofta recipe made with equal parts lamb and beef. The meatballs also freeze well, so it may be worth making a double batch.

Good fresh or frozen . lamb kofta with flatbread. Photograph: Debby Lewis-Harrison/Getty Images

Just because they have the word “meat” in the title, vegetarians should not feel as if they have to shun the meatball. Pinch of Yum’s 30-minute vegetarian meatballs count cauliflower and quinoa as their primary ingredients, blended down and mixed with breadcrumbs and egg. The result is an extremely versatile starting point that works equally well whatever herbs or spices you add. Nor should vegans feel excluded. Esther Clark’s vegan meatballs are made with mushrooms and bound together with a mixture of food-processed black beans and oats.

Finally, it is my firm belief that, if you are going to do meatballs properly, then they should stretch beyond the main course. Pies and Plots has a recipe for brownie meatballs, which – spoiler alert – is basically brownies rolled up into balls. Theirs comes with spaghetti made of icing and a “tomato” sauce made of cherries, but whatever: it is a rolled-up chocolate brownie. Some things are not worth arguing about.


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