Thursday, September 18, 2008


Melissa Clark is the author of Chef, Interrupted. She's coauthored several cookbooks, and knows better than anyone how the recipes in some of these famous chefs' cookbooks can be not only nearly impossible to make at home because of all the impossible to find ingredients, crazy garnishes and sauces, but when they are made, they often don't turn out well. Geez, don't we all know how that goes. What a pisser it is when you spend money on ingredients and time on a recipe that in the end, doesn't turn out right. 

Chef Interrupted is basically a compilation of recipes she's collected from famous chefs and restaurants that she has deconstructed so that you can actually make them at home. In fact, I had a hard time picking a recipe for this post because they all looked so good and SO simple!  What I like about the recipes here is that a lot of them are familiar items that are twisted for a unique taste, so that you can have an old favorite that is also something completely new. There are recipes from so many places -- a couple examples are Babbo, NY and Commanders Palace, new Orleans. 

I finally settled on chef Akhtar Nawab's Veal Ricotta Meatballs from Craftbar, New York. They look good, no?

So the ingredients. Nothing outrageous. The only thing I had to shop for was the ground veal. 

(click to enlarge)

So, when you add the 1.5lb ground veal to the 4 CUPS of ricotta - whoa. That's a wholelottaricotta! 

They're sticky, as you'd expect with all that ricotta and tender veal, so it's recommended that you flour your hands to roll them. 

While the meatballs are browning in the skillet, you put the Marzano tomatoes in a pan, then add the butter (an entire stick! sheesh Paula Deen!) and the garlic and chopped basil. This sauce was so delicious!

This makes a lot of meatballs, and if I did it again, I'd probably use only half the ricotta. Veal is very tender, and the ricotta sort of drowns out the veal. They're good, I'm not saying that they're not, but there just doesn't have to be that much ricotta. Now, as mentioned before, I've never met a recipe I didn't find something to change in, so you don't have to listen to me. 

I had to do these in batches so I didn't overcrowd the pan, but take note - the ricotta will burn eventually, so you will need to change the oil so that you don't get black specks on your meatballs like I did. Truth be told though, they tasted just fine. 

What a mess. 

After the meatballs are done, put them with the sauce -- I used a casserole instead of just tossing all these super-delicate meatballs into the pan I cooked the sauce in -- and then into a 325 oven for around 45 minutes. 

They go great with bread, but noodles would have also been great. Served with a side of broccoli & roasted red pepper and it was complete.  Very rich, very delicate, very good!