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Extra Tender Meatballs with Tomato and Zucchini

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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
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

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Tags: Beef, Veal, Weeknight Cooking, Kid-Friendly, Amanda & Merrill, Kids, Everyday Cooking