Monday, February 27, 2012

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred Fifty-Five (Culinary Intuitiveness and a Recipe for Some Really Tasty Meatballs)

Intuition comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it is simply a sense about a person. “Hey, I like that guy!” or “That person gives me the creeps. Don’t know why. It’s just my intuition.”

Sometimes intuition manifests itself in more concrete forms – like in the ability to create a meal that tastes so good it engenders in each of its beneficiaries a sense of belonging.

I view this as CULINARY INTUITIVENESS or a Midas Touch for Taste.

Given that creating good food is one of my favorite pastimes, I am lucky to have a business partner and friend with culinary intuitiveness.

Is this a case of nature vs. nuture? Can someone be born with the ability to satisfy the palate? Or is it because Frank grew up Italian in Brooklyn? Or that he owned several restaurants with his brothers and wife? For whatever reason, it is clear that he has a Midas Touch for Taste.

Every recipe he has ever shared with me has been golden. While I endeavor to make a close second with careful attention to the ingredients and the instructions for chopping and sautéing, the flavors I create are good, but inevitably miss the mark. In my culinary attempts, I am like a student of a great painter. I might be able to paint discernable water lilies, but Monet I will never be.

Frank gives very clear instructions on the ingredients and process, but he simply cannot impart his culinary intuitiveness on others. That is his alone.

So here is Frank’s recipe for some of the best meatballs I have ever tasted. And, while my rendition of this simple masterpiece was good (and if you follow these instructions, yours will be too), the meal I created lacked the subtleties of the flavors that come solely with an intuition that by its nature cannot be shared.

1 pound ground pork (Frank uses a center cut pork chop, bones it, and put its in the food processor until it is ground, but not mushy)
1 pound ground beef (Frank uses sirloin steak, bones it, and puts it in the food processor until it is ground, but not mushy)
3 medium size eggs
2 carrots
1-2 stalks of celery
1 onion
2-4 cloves of garlic
1/4 bunch Italian parsley
1.5 to 2TBL salt (or to taste)
1.5 to 2TBL pepper (or to taste)
2 TBL grated parmesan cheese (YIKES, this is what I forgot!!)
Half loaf of stale bread (I used Spelt Right bread)
1/2 cup of bread crumbs (I used Spelt Right bread crumbs)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil for frying

Chop the vegetable ingredients in small chucks and then place in food processor until they are chopped finely, but not mush. Put aside in a separate dish.

Place the ground meat and three cracked eggs in a separate dish.

Soak the bread in water to make it soft and then drain the water by squeezing the bread.

Combine all of the ingredients, including the salt, pepper and grated cheese and blend together with your hands. Form round balls with your hands a bit smaller than a golf ball.

In a deep pan heat enough olive oil so that the oil reaches half way up the meatball. Fry on each side until browned and cooked in the center. Drain on plate with paper towel. I also baked some of these in a baking dish covered with olive oil. The baked ones have less fat, but were not nearly as good. Crunchy = fried, mushy= baked. Your choice.

You can eat these alone garnished with a salad, or put in your favorite pasta sauce. Here’s a link to a post with Frank’s pasta sauce recipe (no need to add the ground beef if you are serving with meatballs)."

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