I love meatballs! They are truly one of life's best comfort foods. Unfortunately, these little balls of goodness are given a bad rap. In comparing veal to it's grown up counterpart, it is healthier for you and better for the environment. Win, win.
It has a wonderful delicate flavour that just pairs beautifully with lemon. My mini veal meatballs are tantalizing tender and juicy. You know how most meatballs are thick and sausage-y in texture? Yeah...not these. Moist and full of flavour, they cook up very quickly, right on the stovetop, so no baking required.
The best part about these? The sauce, super unexpected and super delicious. I served these up with some store bought gnocchi and frozen corn, but the possibilities are endless. In a sandwich, with mashed potatoes, pasta or even rice!Try them...they are delicious.
Veal Meatballs with Lemon, Pecorino Romano and Buttermilk in a Tomato and Beer Sauce
Makes roughly 48 mini meatballs
Serves 6-8 servings
Takes 20 minutes to prep meatballs, 20 minutes to finish sauce
For the meatballs:
800 g. Veal mince
1- 1/2 tsp. Fine sea salt, careful here as cheese is salty
1 tbsp. Garlic powder
1 tbsp. Onion powder, without salt. In the UK they are called onion granules
1 tbsp. Dried Herbs de Provence
1 tsp. Sweet paprika
1 tsp. Fresh black pepper
1 Lemon, Juice and zest
1/2 cups Fine breadcrumbs, store bought or homemade
75 g. Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
4 tbsps. Buttermilk
1 Egg, beaten
Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
60 ml. Extra virgin olive oil for sauteing
3 Cloves of garlic, whole and skin on, crushed using back of knife
For the sauce:
1 Carrot, peeled and diced
1 Onion, peeled and diced
1 Rib of celery, diced
1 bottle of beer, I used a Stella Artois, which has 284ml. but a Corona, for example, has 330ml. It is fine either way, just don't add more than 330ml.
125 ml. Veal or chicken stock
120 ml. Tomato passata.
1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
More fresh flat leaf parsley to serve
* In the U.S.A, you can use crushed tomatoes. It doesn't have to be as smooth as passata. It can also be plain or seasoned with herbs, your choice. (I used one with herbs)
You can also use your favorite tomato pasta sauce if that's all you have on hand. It really won't alter the sauce negatively. The trick here is to not use too much tomato sauce.
For the meatballs:
First mix and brown meatballs, then finish them in the sauce
1 Mix all ingredients for the meatballs together in a large bowl.
2. Shape a little bit of the meat mix into a mini ball, smaller than a golf ball, see pics
3. Place a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat with olive oil and garlic cloves.
Saute half the meatballs for a few minutes, turning them frequently, until they are golden brown all over. They will not be fully cooked through at this point. Move them to a clean plate and repeat with remaining batch of meatballs. Move to plate and reserve. Leave garlic cloves in frying pan, but remove skins and discard.
To finish and make sauce:
1. To the same frying pan on a medium heat, add carrot, onion and celery. Saute gently until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir often.
2. Add reserved meatballs back to pan along with passata, beer and balsamic vinegar. Cover and let braise for 20 minutes. Add chop parsley and serve with your favourite side.
Two 60 ml. measures of passata is all I used.
My daughter saw the reserved mini meatballs on her plate and thought they were all for her, LOL!