If you want meatballs for dinner at the A16 restaurant in San Francisco Monday is the only night you can get them despite a big demand the other nights of the week.
These meatballs were originally created as a Monday special by the chefs at A16 restaurant in San Francisco as a way to use up scraps leftover from butchering whole animals. They pay deference to the rustic cooking of southern Italy, but have taken on a life of their own. At dinner, the restaurant limits serving them on Mondays despite demand. But they are a regular on the lunch menu and among the most popular dishes at A16’s sister spot in Tokyo.
Monday Meatballs from A16
Makes 6 servings
10 ounces boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes and ground in a meat grinder or finely chopped in a food processor
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10 ounces beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes and ground in a meat grinder or finely chopped in a food processor
6 ounces day-old country bread, torn into chunks and ground in a meat grinder or finely chopped in a food processor
2 ounces pork fat, cut into 1-inch cubes and ground in a meat grinder or chilled in a freezer for 15 minutes then finely chopped in a food processor
2 ounces prosciutto, chopped and ground in a meat grinder or chilled in a freezer for 15 minutes then finely chopped in a food processor
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2/3 cup fresh ricotta, drained if necessary
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
1 can (28-ounce) San Marzano tomatoes, with juices
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Parmesan cheese, for grating
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with olive oil or cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine the pork, beef, bread, pork fat, prosciutto, parsley, 1 teaspoon of the salt, oregano, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. Use your hands to mix just until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs and milk just enough to break up any large curds of ricotta.
4. Add the ricotta mixture to the ground meat mixture and mix lightly with your hands just until incorporated. The mixture should feel wet and tacky.
5. Pinch off a small nugget of the mixture, flatten it into a disk, and cook it in a small saute pan. Taste it and adjust the seasoning of the mixture with salt if needed.
6. Form the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. You should have about 30 meatballs.
7. Bake, rotating the sheets once from the front to the back, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are browned. Remove from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
8. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and then pass the tomatoes and their juices through a food mill fitted with the medium plate. Alternatively, put the entire can of tomatoes in a large bowl and then squeeze them into small pieces with your hands.
9. Pack the meatballs into 1 large roasting pan or 2 smaller roasting pans. Pour the tomato sauce over the meatballs, cover tightly with foil, then braise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meatballs are tender and have absorbed some of the tomato sauce.
10. Sprinkle the meatballs with the basil. To serve, ladle meatballs with some of the sauce into a bowl. Grate Parmesan over the top, then drizzle with olive oil to finish.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 540 calories; 282 calories from fat; 31 g fat (11 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 186 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrate; 36 g protein; 4 g fiber; 1,472 mg sodium.
Recipe adapted from Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren’s “A16: Food + Wine,” Ten Speed Press, 2008