We are drooling in anticipation of trying the Meatball Co., and it got us thinking about what goes into this eternally popular, bite-sized morsel. Albondigas, polpette, kofta, or köttbullar—whatever you know them as, this ultimate comfort food has pride of place in nearly every cuisine around the world. And who could not love the combination of juicy, flavoured meat, married with a rich sauce, and served on top of pasta, mashed potato, or crunchy fresh bread?
But what makes the perfect meatball? We've scoured the city to find you Brisbane's best, and come up with a simple version for you to try at home.
Combining different meats seems to be the order of the day, depending on the flavour and texture you're after. Tapas restaurant, Olé mixes beef with chorizo for their albondigas, which provides extra flavour and built-in spice. Popolo uses a more traditional Italian combination of pork and beef, while The Chelsea Bistro adds a touch of luxury with pork and veal.
Now that you've chosen your meat, it's time to add more flavour.
Onion is a given, but do you pre-cook for a sweeter flavour or add in raw for a bit of crunch? This is entirely a matter of taste and will also depend if you want to include the extra step of frying (as well as another pan to wash up).
Spicing will predominantly depend on the meat you choose and the cuisine you're craving. If you go for pork mince, then fennel seeds will be the perfect match; if you go for beef mince, you may wish to add deeper flavour with cumin and coriander; and if you go for chorizo, you probably won't need any at all!
Lastly, you'll need something to hold the meatballs together and your options are raw egg, breadcrumbs, and/or milk. Soaking bread in milk creates what is called a panade which promises a moist and light meatball.
If you're serving your meatballs on spaghetti, you'll be needing a traditional tomato sauce comprising chopped tomatoes (or passata), garlic, dried oregano, onion, and fresh basil.
Swedish meatballs will generally come with a sauce based on sour cream and beef or chicken stock. We were very sad to say goodbye to Albion's Stockholm Syndrome, which served up a traditional Nordic meatball experience, but recently announced its imminent closure.
Efes One keep it simple and serve their Turkish kefte straight from the grill, drizzled with yogurt garlic sauce.
How it's done
So now it's time to get your hands dirty. We've given you a traditional Italian recipe to start, but there's no shortage of inspiration out there to help perfect your ultimate creation.
Our classic Italian meatballs
¼ cup milk
½ cup breadcrumbs (roughly one slice of bread)
250g beef mince
250g pork mince
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp crushed fennel seeds or oregano
Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for five minutes until it forms a paste.
Add the onion, herbs, and both meats, then mix together well.
Wet your hands to prevent sticking, and shape golf-ball-sized meatballs out of the mince. Place them in the fridge for 10 minutes or until firm.
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the meatballs over a medium heat until browned.
Add your sauce of choice, and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes.
Feeling inspired? Tell us who serves the best meatballs in Brisbane or the secret ingredient that makes yours number one.
Image credit: fatties delight