I had a culinary 911 call a few weeks ago. A neighbor was having a bunch of her husband’s new work colleagues over (big promotion here) for a get together to meet him, plan a new marketing campaign AND to watch a football game. While I’m all for mixing business with pleasure she was panicking due to the fact she doesn’t cook. I’m talking burning water and screwing up microwave popcorn here. In fact her idea of gourmet is take out from the kosher deli because they provide the napkins. As this was the first time she was going to be entertaining as the “boss’s wife” she kinda felt like maybe she should go the extra mile and turn on the oven.
After 2 glasses of what she described as a medicinal merlot she calmed down and called me. As her budget was tight I suggested she make a veggie platter and a fruit platter and make some meat balls. Men like meatballs; I tell her, so do women if they’re made with a less caloric meat like ground chicken or turkey. She said, “Can’t I just buy them?” “Nope”, I scoffed, “the store bought ones tend to have fillers and taste nasty and are often freezer burned due to having been made sometime in the last century”. “Besides” I coaxed, “you can do this, it’s only one bowl and almost no fuss” I don’t know if it was the merlot or my persuasive ability but she persevered (with me on speaker phone) through the first trial batch. They came out sooooo great (meaning, in her words, nobody died after they ate them) that she hung up and made the next two batches on her own. Needless to say she called me back after the weekend asking for more and different meatball recipes as everyone complimented her on how tasty they were.
Personally, I tend to make basic meat balls and leave the gourmet ones to others. I gave her the following several recipes to choose from which have not all been specifically tested or made by me. Some have been sent to me by friends and other chefs whose abilities (and meatballs) are all first rate and never seem to last past half time.