Secret Recipe: Absinthe's Spicy Pork Meatballs


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Chef Adam Keough says these spicy pork meatballs are one of the most popular items on his menu at Absinthe, where he's been at the helm of the kitchen for about a year now. The secret sauce is the vibrant gravy made with San Marzano tomatoes (look for them in the canned tomato section in grocery stores like Whole Foods), and we've got the recipe. Serve the meatballs with crusty bread or over your favorite pasta. And top them with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, chopped basil, and good extra virgin olive oil.

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ricotta cheese 

2 tablespoons milk

2 eggs

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground beef (80% lean)

1/4 pound ground fat back

3 ounces prosciutto, chopped small

1/2 cup finely chopped Calabrian chiles

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1/2 tablespoon toasted and ground fennel seeds

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons oregano, chopped

2 tablespoons basil, chopped

1 teaspoon red chile flakes

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated 

1 cup bread crumbs (made from Italian or French loaf)

2 cups olive oil for frying

6 cups San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed

1/2 bunch basil

1 cup all-purpose flour for coating meatball

1. Lightly whisk together the ricotta, milk, and eggs in a bowl.

2. In a separate large bowl, add the meats, fat, chiles, garlic, fennel seeds, salt and pepper, parsley, oregano, basil, chile flakes, Parmesan, and bread crumbs. Pour the milk-ricotta mixture over this, and mix well.

3. Sauté a small piece in oil to check for seasoning. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

4. Form mixture into golf-ball-sized meatballs, and place them on a large tray lined with wax paper. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet to 350 degrees. 

5. In a large pot, heat tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Lightly coat up to 10 meatballs at a time with the flour, and in batches, fry until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel, and then add them to the tomato sauce. Repeat until all the meatballs are fried.

7. Cook over low heat (you should see very slight bubbles) for 90 minutes. Stir gently every 20 minutes to rotate the meatballs. 

8. Cool the meatballs down in the sauce, and serve.


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