Monster meatballs with braised onions

I’m not normally one to cook much from a fancy restaurant cookbooks, but I recently received The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook as a gift. The food is beautiful. It’s the sort of food I’d love to eat – if someone else was cooking it. It has the sort of recipe that contains 4 within a single recipe. Let’s just say it. It’s complex.

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But I happened upon a recipe for giant meatballs over mashed potatoes and I was intrigued. I could probably eat mashed potatoes daily, but I haven’t yet eaten them with meatballs. And suddenly it seemed odd that I’d limited my meatball experiences at home to red sauce and pasta. Why not try them with these silky braised onions atop mashed potatoes?

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Though the fancy cookbook was my inspiration, I chose to make my own meatball recipe instead. My recipe is a bit simpler but still has wonderful flavor. I like to use a combination of ground beef, pork and veal for the meatballs.  The combination of the different meats lends nice flavor, texture, and just the right amount of fat.  If I can’t find veal, I will just combine ground beef and pork to substitute. The addition of egg, panko, fresh parsley, herbes de Provence and seasonings complete the meatballs.

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Roasting the meatballs is a great hands-off technique that keeps these giant-sized meatballs juicy and flavorful with minimal effort and mess.

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In the meantime, the onions can be braised in red wine, emphasizing their sweetness. With the contrast of red wine vinegar, the sweet-sour notes of the braised onions work perfectly against the mashed potatoes and meatballs.

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The meatballs can be cut in half, topped with provolone or fontina and broiled until the cheese is bubbly. Serve over creamy mashed potatoes. I also decided to sauté beet greens with a bit of garlic to round out the meal. This makes for a delicious weekend meal, but it could even work for a weeknight if the meatballs were prepped in advance.

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monster meatballs
½ lb ground veal
½ lb ground beef
½ lb ground pork
1 egg
¾ cup panko
1 tsp herbes de Provence
small handful of fresh parsley
coarse kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

12 slices mozzarella cheese

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Get your hands dirty and just mush everything together. Roll into 6 giant meatballs. Place in a roasting dish and bake at 325F until baked through, about 40 minutes. While meatballs are roasting, make braised onions and mashed potatoes.

Transfer meatballs to a cutting board and cut in half. Drain fat from roasting dish. Place meatballs back in roasting dish and top with a slice of mozzarella or fontina cheese. Broil until cheese is melted.

braised onions
adapted from “The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook”
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large sweet onions
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, plus a drop for serving
2 cups red wine
1 cup water

Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Slice the onions in rounds and separate the rounds. Add onions, minced garlic, salt and pepper and cook until onions have softened. Add the vinegar and cook until it’s almost fully gone. Add the wine and 1 cup water. Simmer over medium low heat until the liquid is almost gone, about 30 minutes.

leftovers!
meatball sandwiches

In addition to this meal, I had so many meatballs leftover that I was easily able to throw together a weeknight meal of meatball sandwiches. Slice meatballs in half again and rewarm in marinara sauce. Toast hoagie rolls with additional cheese and top with warmed meatballs.

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