Pork meatballs spice up holiday buffet

Meatballs are currently the darling of the food scene, and they're perfect for spicing up a holiday spread or slipping into a bun for an easy, at-home sandwich.

No one makes better meatballs than the Meatball Shop in New York City. Or so says my sister-in-law Elisa, an artist who lives in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood. She declared the shop's spicy pork meatballs "amazing."

You don't have to go to New York to taste them, thanks to "The Meatball Shop Cookbook," by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow (Ballantine, $28).

The cookbook suggests serving them golf-ball-size with polenta, but like Elisa we thought they were terrific on a roll with sauce and a slice of provolone. They'd also be terrific bite-sized for a party.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds pork shoulder, ground

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt

4 jarred hot cherry peppers, minced

1/2 cup hot cherry pepper pickling liquid

4 slices fresh white bread, minced

3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle olive oil into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.

Combine ground pork, salt, cherry peppers and liquid, bread and eggs in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

Roll the mixture into round, golf-ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place balls in prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching.

Roast for 20 minutes, or until meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a ball should read 165 degrees.

Allow meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in baking dish before serving.

Makes about two-dozen meatballs.

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.) via  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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