Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Fabio Viviani's Mama's Meatballs

Everybody loves Fabio Viviani. I know Minxeats readers do, because we still get tons of hits from nosybodies googling "is Fabio Viviani married" on a regular basis. Come on - if you were a real fan, you'd know that he's divorced from his first wife and really doesn't have time for a relationship right now, much to his mother's dismay.

Richard Blais, who competed against (and beat) Fabio in the Top Chef All-Stars season, loves Fab, too. I recently found a brief piece in which the two compliment each other's cookbook. In it, Blais waxes rhapsodic about Fabio's meatballs, claiming that ricotta cheese gives them the "most amazing texture." Now, we just so happened to have a quart of ricotta in the fridge, purchased during a 2-for-1 deal. The expiration date on the package is late June, so there was no real hurry to use it up, but before I forgot about it--lost it in the bowels of the always-full fridge--I thought it should be meatball time at Casa Minx.

I got no arguments from Mr Minx. Spaghetti and meatballs is probably his favorite dish, and he knows I'm always looking for a meatball recipe that is reminiscent of my Aunt Stasia's. Her balls were big and soft, cheesy and evenly-textured. (Ok, who's going to be the first to take that sentence out of context?) A quick online search later and he had Fabio's meatball recipe in hand.

We wanted to make the recipe exactly as written, so a trip to the store was necessary to pick up the cup of grated Parmesan, the shallots, and the panko that we didn't already have in stock. A couple hours later, we feasted. The result was, ah...pretty good. But despite half a cup of ricotta and a whole cup of parm, the meatballs were pretty firm. We blame that on the panko, a super-crunchy Japanese breadcrumb that's best used for coating fried foods. Also, the shallots hadn't melted into the meat, so there were little crunchy oniony bits here and there. Sure, the meatballs were moist, but then, I've never really had a dry meatball.

The recipe seems like a good springboard for experimentation. Maybe substitute a bread-and-milk panade for the panko. Cook the shallot a bit or puree it before adding to the meat mixture. More ricotta. Something.

In the meantime, does anyone out there have a recipe for a soft, cheesy, evenly-textured meatball? No offense, Fabio, but your balls just didn't cut it.

Posted on Minxeats.com.
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