Saturday, October 10, 2015

Meatballs with pine nuts and currants

When we lived in Cobble Hill we ate at Frankie's in neighbouring Carroll Gardens [this post was first published in January, 2014, so here is a 2015 interjection: and now we live there: wheee!].

I like their food very much. The unnecessary noise, I hated. It is an insult to the food, because it makes conversation impossible. For me, sitting down to eat is as much about the company's conversation as the food. And at Frankie's you can only shout.

There are recipes for Frankie's meatballs all over the web, and this is very much based on their published version, with a few tweaks. I use less bread, parmesan rather than pecorino, currants rather than raisins, fewer eggs, and I roast the meatballs at high heat (450'F), rather  than very low (325'). High heat gives them a nice crust.

Meatballs (for two, and then some)

1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 lb organic ground beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
2 garlic cloves,finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
1/4 cup Spanish pine nuts
1/4 cup currants
1 large egg

Soak the breadcrumbs in milk, then squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. Put the soggy crumbs in a bowl, and add the ground beef. Season with black pepper and the salt. Mix the crumbs and meat together thoroughly, using a fork. Add the garlic, parsley, cheese, nuts and currants. Mix again.

Heat the oven to 450'F/220'C.

Now roll the mixture into golf-sized balls. Golf makes me fall asleep. It helps to have a bowl of water handy while you are rolling - keep wetting your palms with a little: it prevents sticking.

Place the meatballs on an oiled baking sheet and slide into the oven. Take the tray out after 10 minutes and flip each meatball. Slide back in.

While they are roasting I make a quick tomato sauce:

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 can of good tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
Salt (maybe)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the garlic till translucent. Do not allow to brown. Add the tomatoes, crushing them in the pan till they are in pieces. Or chop first!

Add the sugar. Stir. Cook over medium-high heat for 20 minutes, bubbling. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary, as well as pepper.  If you have the time, allow to cool for 10 minutes then puree till smooth. Return to pan and keep warm. Otherwise serve it rough and ready...

(If you want to be funny you can add two strips of orange zest to the tomato sauce while it cooks - it's really good, and an idea form the late, lamented Inoteca on Rivington Street.)

Add the meatballs to the pan with the sauce and cook at a low simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve nestled in sauce and topped with some more passing thunder showers of cheese.

Here's the Frankie's cookbook, if you'd like more of the food, and none of the noise.


  1. Thanks, always on the look out for a good meatball ricipes

  2. Sounds wonderful especially on this cold windy January day! How are your book sales going?

  3. God, those look good! Putting the ingredients on the shopping list now. Thanks!

  4. What a great recipe - the meatballs look delicious. Can ground chicken be substituted without making other changes to the recipe?


  5. Replies
    1. It's possible they might be drier - because the ground beef has fat in it, and fat also delivers flavour. Maybe add more cheese?


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