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Video: Make mouthwatering meatballs

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    >>> this morning on "today's kitchen," back to basics. october is italian heritage month, and we are getting a jump on things with some of the most famous italian meatballs in the world. pellegrino is the owner of reyos here in new york and the owner of the " rao 's cookbook." sorry about my side kick here. we love meatballs, but we're desperate to get a table at rao 's. it's very hard.

    >> we're going to try to keep it that way.

    >> good try, though. all right, fine.

    >> we've got raw meat here, frank, be careful.

    >> you've got raw meat and i want to get you started.

    >> what's the raw meat ?

    >> this is two pounds of half beat, quarter pork, quarter veal.

    >> have your butcher mix it up for you?

    >> have your butcher or they even sell it in supermarkets like that.

    >> this will make how much meatballs for a family?

    >> 14 to 16 meatballs. about that size, about two inch in diameter. we've got to get you started. first of all, spread out the chopped meat like it is now.

    >> with our hands?

    >> no, it's already spread out. if you want to put your hands in there --

    >> now this is like a large clove of garlic that's been minced.

    >> okay.

    >> now i want you to spread that around on the meat. spread it around.

    >> with my hands?

    >> fantastic.

    >> get your fingers dirty. good, good, good, that's enough. that's enough. now we're going to do little salt and pepper .

    >> want to do that, matt?

    >> go ahead.

    >> how much?

    >> it's a half a teaspoon to a whole teaspoon of salt.

    >> pepper?

    >> good.

    >> yes, we're going to do about half a teaspoon of black pepper in there.

    >> excellent.

    >> that's the best part.

    >> we're going to do the parsley. this is about a tablespoon of chopped parsley.

    >> where does this recipe come from?

    >> italy.

    >> this comes from my aunt, my mother. this is a real neopolitan way of making meatballs. no, not yet. not yet.

    >> oh, what'd i do?

    >> frank, i'll handle this. okay.

    >> put those two eggs --

    >> yeah?

    >> i use one egg per pound. okay, we've got that.

    >> now you put your hand in it.

    >> no, not yet. now what we're going to do is put the water. about half a cup --

    >> how much is that? wow.

    >> we're going to put all of that. now we're going to put the cheese.

    >> just let frank tell you what to do.

    >> this is two cups.

    >> two cups, i see it.

    >> all of it?

    >> just put it in.

    >> yes.

    >> now what?

    >> now a cup of breadcrumbs.

    >> give me -- i can't cook without a hat!

    >> you can't cook with a hat.

    >> now put it in?

    >> now put your hands in there and mix it all up. mix it good.

    >> i'm thinking about that --

    >> but frank, you don't want to go too crazy handling this, especially in the packing time, right?

    >> exactly. you don't want to overhandle it --

    >> why?

    >> because it makes it dense.

    >> you want the chuck meat to be a little loose, but moist.

    >> you're really a perfectionist.

    >> you're doing really good.

    >> that looks great.

    >> all right.

    >> very nice.

    >> good.

    >> all right, matt, your turn.

    >> you want to mix it a little bit?

    >> no, i want to start to form some meatballs.

    >> it needs little bit more mixing.

    >> more mixing?

    >> all right, get it evenly distributed. now you can make the meatballs.

    >> we want these two inch in diameter meatballs, you say. but again, we're not handling them too much.

    >> no, you don't want to handle them too much.

    >> a lot of people like to bake their meatballs. we're going to fry them, right?

    >> frying them gives them more flavor, more taste.

    >> but it's worse for you, isn't it?

    >> you mean worse for you healthwise? no, olive oil is good for you.

    >> how do you know if the oil's ready?

    >> in the olive oil , this is two cups of olive oil . that's a ten-inch frying pan . and what we do is we put the garlic in. and you wait to see that the garlic starts to bubble and starts to move.

    >> and that means the oil's ready?

    >> then you know that the oil's about ready.

    >> can we throw them right in?

    >> yeah, this one has been heating up for a while, so --

    >> it's starting to bubble.

    >> throw them in.

    >> don't throw them in. it's oil.

    >> he said throw them in.

    >> gently place them in.

    >> you said throw. i heard a throw. all right, water.

    >> is there osha around here or something like that?

    >> osha -- all right, is that enough?

    >> that's good.

    >> how many minutes on each side there?

    >> about five minutes on each side.

    >> then you flip them over?

    >> with a thing, though, not with your hands.

    >> and wait until the bottom browns because --

    >> fool.

    >> did you ever bob for meatballs?

    >> go ahead, you can continue.

    >> okay.

    >> then the meatballs are going to look like this.

    >> they absorb a lot --

    >> you know what, some people put an ice cube in the middle of the meatball an say it makes it moister. adventu have you ever done that?

    >> i don't believe in that, no. i've never done that and i don't know who would.

    >> that was a ridiculous question. ridiculous. i apologize.

    >> did that hurt my chances of getting a table at rao 's?

    >> no.

    >> okay, good.

    >> then we add the meatballs to the sauce.

    >> the marinara sauce .

    >> you like special tomatoes, though. what kind?

    >> samozana tomatoes.

    >> are you still acting, by any chance?

    >> i'm still acting.

    >> you were in "the sopranos."

    >> yes, i was.

    >> and where are you acting right now?

    >> i'm not acting anything right now. i think i'm washed up.

    >> no, not at all.

    >> it's over for me.

    >> this hasn't helped your career, i can tell you that.

    >> then we let them cook about a half hour in the sauce and they're ready. they absorb some sauce. then we'll give you a sample --

    >> for people who aren't familiar with rao 's, if you're in a different part of the country, it's an incredible restaurant, tough to get into. there is only 35 seats, right?

    >> no, no, ten tables and 50 seats. and then we have the restaurant in las vegas . serve a year?

    >> believe it or not, we count thaemd last year. we did over 13,000 meatballs at little rao 's. at big rao 's in caesars, we did over 100,000 meatballs.

    >> wow. that's a lot of meatballs.

    >> that's pretty good.

    >> that's a lot of meatballs. how many do you serve per plate?

    >> two.

    >> can you ask for three?

    >> sure, you can.

    >> her last night at rao 's.

    >> no.

    >> are you still singing?

    >> not at 8:30 in the morning.

    >> oh, come on, come on.

    >> in fact, i don't know how you eat meatballs at 8:30 in the morning. what are we doing?

    >> we're singing.

    >> we're listening to "it's amour."

    >> you can sing at 8:30. you can sing at any time.

    >>> still ahead, what you should know if you know you're going to be laid off. but first, this is "today."

    >> i'm getting a table. i know that.

TODAY recipes
updated 9/30/2009 9:28:23 AM ET 2009-09-30T13:28:23

Recipe: Rao’s meatball recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lb beef
  • 1/2 lb veal
  • 1/2 lb pork
  • 3 large gloves garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
Preparation

In a large bowl, place the meat and rub the minced garlic into it. Press the meat down in the bowl, then add, in this order, the salt, pepper, parsley, 2 eggs, and the water. Then sprinkle the cheese over the top as if you are going to cover the water. Finally, sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the cheese.

When you start to mix it all together, mix from the outside of the bowl to the middle and fold it in. After the ingredients are mixed, start to roll the meatball in your hands, about 6 ounces per meatball.

After your meatballs are rolled, take a frying pan (a 10 inch sautee pan is best), add your oil (2 cups) and heat. Place a clove of whole garlic in the frying pan; when the clove of garlic starts to brown, the oil is ready.

Fry the meatballs, cooking and flipping each side until golden brown, about 4 1/2 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove the meatballs after cooking and put on a plate with some paper towels to absorb the oil. [If you want, you can bake the meatballs in an oven on a lightly greased tray at 350 degrees – the taste is totally different than frying.]

Add the meatballs to your tomato sauce and finish cooking them up in the sauce. Serve with the sauce.

Serving Size

Makes 14–16 meatballs

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