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The Recipe Behind The Best Meatballs Dick Stein Has Ever Made

Say hello to my little friend!

The Andrews Sisters were singing "One Meatball" in my head as I browsed through one of my favorite cooking sites, And then my eyes fell upon Daniel Gritzer's eye-opening (and gut-expanding) recipe for Italian-American style meatballs.  Coincidence?  I think not. 

I was struck by Gritzer's use of gelatin in the meatball mix.  I've been adding gelatin to meatball and meatloaf mixtures for a long time, but never in the way Gritzer describes. As I told Nancy Leson, what I usually do is sprinkle some over a cracked egg, let it sit for a while and then mix all that into the rest of the meat mixture.  It really does make for a juicier end product with a nice mouth feel.

But Gritzer's doing it better. He's using gelatinized chicken stock — either the homemade kind, brewed with lots of bones and feet that chills up all jiggle-a-tized, or, as I did, some powdered gelatin added to canned broth that's heated then chilled. At that point, just mince up the gelled broth and add it to the mixture. 

Gritzer's method really did make the best meatballs I've ever turned out. In fact, there are several good ideas about meatball making incorporated into that recipe. Give it a try.

Even my wife, (The Lovely & Talented) Cheryl DeGroot who in the past has attributed an excess of resiliency  ("Did you make these with grated erasers?") to my meatballs, thought they were A-1.

Sweet, Sour And Spicy Meatballs

The kind of meatballs Nancy's been up to? The Sandpot Casserole of Sweet, Sour and Spicy Meatballs.

Credit Nancy Leson
Nancy's take on Barbara Tropp's "Sandpot Casserole of Sweet, Sour and Spicy Meatballs" from her "China Moon Cookbook."

It's one of her favorite recipes from Barbara Tropp's "China Moon Cookbook."

As Nance admits, this recipe is complicated. "It takes forever to prep," says Nance, "which is why the smart money makes the meatballs in advance, so that putting together the rest of the dish isn't so difficult."

The way this weather's been going it will soon be too warm for food like this. So let's get meatballin' while the meatballin's good! And speaking of meatball weather...

"If you're trying to catch food in your mouth it might help to look upward."

– From "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.