These simple meatballs let the tender texture of pastured veal shine.
Traditional recipes may call for an egg, and you can certainly add one to this recipe to no ill effect, but it isn’t necessary to hold them together and only increases the chances that you’ll overwork the mixture and the meatballs will be less tender than they might otherwise be. Serve these as you would any meatball—with spaghetti and tomato sauce, in a soup or stew, or atop braised greens.
Pastured veal, aka red veal, isn’t pale and flabby like industrially raised veal. It has more flavor and a darker truly pink-verging-on-red color. For meatballs with a more delicate texture and paler color, you can use half veal and half ground chicken. Or, if the veal you have isn’t ground, try veal scallopini or vitello tonnato instead.
- 1 pound ground lean veal
- 2 medium shallots or 1 large
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1/4 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup panko or fine fresh bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Put the veal to one side in a large mixing bowl.
- Peel and mince the shallot(s) and garlic. Mince the parsley leaves. Add them all to the other side of the bowl the veal is in. Add the panko, cheese, cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg as well. Use your hands to mix the non-veal ingredients together, then work in the veal, blending everything together well.
- Shape the mixture into 24 balls, about 1.5-inches across each. Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill for about 30 minutes.
- Heat an oven to 425°F and set a cooking rack in the top third of the oven. Bake the meatballs on that top rack until browned and cooked through, 20-25 minutes. You can turn them all over half-way through baking, if you want. Alternatively, you can fry them in a pan over medium-high heat: work in batches so the meatballs are in a single layer and not touching each other, turn them as the brown and cook until they’re browned and cooked through, 10-15 minutes per batch.