If you’re like me, you like a good meatball. But they’re a lot more difficult to perfect than first thought.
Typically my non-chef designed meatballs are pretty straightforward: roll up some ground beef in my hands and pop them into the oven (or sometimes a frying pan). But they’re usually terrible: tasteless, rubbery and not something you’d go out of your way to eat.
I’d always wondered how a “proper” meatball is made, and my needs were answered when I ran into a YouTube video series by Alexis Gabriel Ainouz, a.k.a. French Guy Cooking. Ainouz seems to be an engineer-type, who explores the world of cooking with a distinctly methodical and design-focused approach.
I first encountered Ainouz last year when he was selected for our Design of the Week for his 3D printed croissant making machine .
Ainouz will periodically become obsessed with the production of a particular food dish, and recently his obsession matched mine: the quest for the best possible meatball.
In the series, Ainouz travels to different parts of the world to investigate the properties and process behind the world’s greatest meatballs, including Italian, Swedish and Turkish. From these examinations he derived a recipe for meatballs that is quite incredible.
I’ve tried this recipe myself and was blown away by the results (at least after I actually followed the recipe properly).
The Meatball Recipe
Here are the ingredients from Ainouz’s recipe, taken from this specific juicy meatball video :
1 pound ground beef ( 20% fat )
1 tsp salt,
2 slices of white sandwich bread, soaked in whole milk,
1.5 garlic clove,
1/8 cup chopped parsley (flat leaf is possible)
1/8 cup (up to 1/4) grated pecorino cheese (Parmesan works as well, but it is less funky)
1 heaped tbsp of Ricotta cheese
1 heaped tbsp of grated zucchini flesh (white only)
Aim for 2 ounces ~55g raw meatball in weight.
Preheated oven, 425°F or 220°C, then roast them for 16 to 18min. and NO SOAKING.
It’s useful to look at the ingredients and recipe from an engineering viewpoint, as the problems I had are all solved: the soaked bread and zucchini resolves the rubbery texture, the egg holds it all together, while the cheese increases the taste tremendously. I would never have thought to put cheese into the meatball before it is cooked!
One thing I noticed is that the softer ingredients do make the meatball material a bit softer, as designed, but this causes the shape of the ball to slump slightly, as you can see in the images. It’s not really possible to obtain a purely spherical meatball with this recipe.
But the shape of the meatball will be the last thing on your mind when you taste them. Enjoy!
Via YouTube / Alex