Cooking for Clara

Extra Tender Meatballs with Tomato and Zucchini

By • September 17, 2013 • 10 Comments

84 Save

Merrill's baby Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray. 

Today: Extra tender meatballs, with sauce on the inside.

Extra Tender Meatballs, Redux on Food52

Meatballs are a hot item in our house: Clara can eat them with her fingers, it's easy to make a lot of them, they freeze well, and they're great with everything from pasta to mashed potatoes to corn. I can make them with beef, pork, veal, turkey, chicken -- not to mention endless combinations of these.

For a while, I thought I'd landed on the ultimate formula for savory, super-tender meatballs -- a little mayonnaise here, some Worcestershire sauce there, along with a few other things.

More: Extra Tender Meatballs, the Original Version

Extra Tender Meatballs, Redux on Food52

But after I published my recipe, a friend wrote to me with her tried-and-true method: she cooks down onion, tomato and zucchini, cools this, and then folds it in with the meat. In other words, her meatballs have the sauce on the inside! I tried it myself, and the brilliance of her techniqe was confirmed. When you cook the vegetables down, their natural sweetness amplifies, giving the meatballs a depth of flavor, while the residual juices from the tomatoes and zucchini keep them soft and juicy.

Extra Tender Meatballs, Redux on Food52

Meatballs with Tomato and Zucchini

Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cups chopped tomato (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup diced zucchini
1 pound ground chuck (85% lean)
1 pound ground veal
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 large egg, lightly beaten

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: cooking for clara, meatballs, veal, beef, kid, kid-friendly, cooking with kids, cooking for kids, everyday cooking

Comments (10)

Default-small
Default-small
Default-small

7 months ago Hope

and a tiny bit of horseradish as well...just a bit of zip :)

Default-small

7 months ago tastysweet

If you use canned tomatoes, do you drain the juice and just use the tomatoes?

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You can use some of the juice as well -- just make sure you cook them down so the veggies aren't too wet!

Baci1

7 months ago HalfPint

I use that cooked vegetable technique for my meatloaf too. Makes a very tasty moist and tender turkey loaf.

Junechamp

7 months ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I think you have the cutest baby ever. Have you signed her up with a modeling agency yet? She could pay for her own college before she's six.... ;)

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

You're too nice! :)

186003_1004761561_1198459_n

7 months ago dymnyno

Ditto! She is very photogenic too.

036

7 months ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

How does that kid keep getting cuter? It's ridiculous! (in a good way of course :-)

036

7 months ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

oh and PS - I add shredded carrot to meatballs too which is pretty yummy

Merrill

7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I'll have to try that! And thanks for the sweet words about Miss C.