With new locations slated for Denver, Seattle, and Santa Barbara, Patxi’s Pizza is expanding faster than its customer’s waistlines. So you’d never guess that the Chicago pie maker’s secret weapon doesn’t involve pizza at all: It’s a meatball.
When I was interviewing Off the Grid founder Matt Cohen for the food truck story that just hit stands in the December issue, Mr. Don of Food Trucks himself confessed that he often ducks into Patxi's for the meatball because he thinks it's among the best in the city. So maybe it's not a coincidence that Patxi’s chef-owner, Francisco “Patxi” Azpiroz, is so confident in his ball-molding abilities that he’ll be rolling out a lengthier meatball section of the menu. Look out for new baked and fried meatballs with tomato and pesto sauces to debut some time next year at most Bay Area Patxi's locations. As a teaser of sorts, Azpiroz released his meatball recipe to San Francisco just in time for party season. The chef's pro tip? He insists you have a meat thermometer handy in order to ensure the balls come out perfectly juicy and tender every time. Recipe follows.
Patxi’s “Old-Style” Italian Meatballs
1 cup day old French bread, crusts removed
1 to 2 cups milk
2 ¼ pounds sustainably raised ground beef
¼ cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh parsley, washed and chopped
Flour as needed
Peanut, canola, or olive oil for frying
Makes 26 golf ball-sized meatballs
Tear up the bread into rough 1 ½ inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Add enough milk to just soak the bread. In a separate mixing bowl, evenly mix together the ground beef, egg, parmesan, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley. Take handfuls of the soaked bread and squeeze out excessive moisture like you’re wringing out a sponge. Add the squeezed bread to the meat mixture and mix in thoroughly until evenly combined. Form the meat into 1 ½ ounce balls, roughly the size and shape of a golf ball. Using a fine mesh sieve, dust meatballs lightly with flour before cooking. To cook the meatballs, you may choose to deep-fry them or bake them, based on your preferred method of cooking.
To Deep-Fry: Fill a deep pot one third of the way with oil, or just enough to fully submerge golf ball-sized meatballs. Measure the temperature of the oil with a candy thermometer. When temperature reaches 350 degrees, drop in meatballs one by one and sizzle them until golden, about seven to nine minutes. When meatballs reach internal temperature of 160 degrees, transfer cooked meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
To Bake: Place meatballs on a cookie sheet or baking dish and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about twenty minutes, or until golden brown. Turn the meatballs half way through cooking so they cook evenly.