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Italian Meatballs

Adapted from The Silver Spoon Cookbook, published by Phaidon

Serves 4


  • 2 small rolls with crusts removed
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. Vietnamese fish sauce (as an exchange for anchovy filets)
  • 1 lb. coarsely ground lean beef (ground chuck works well)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup fine bread crumbs (I use the crusts from the rolls by pulverizing in a food processor)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil


  • Tear the rolls into large pieces and soak in the milk for about 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, place the crusts into a food processor or blender and pulverize.
  • Set aside.
  • Combine parsley, garlic, fish sauce, egg yolk, and beef. 
  • Squeeze out the milk from the bread; discard the milk and add the bread to the mixture.
  • Combine thoroughly.
  • Add salt and pepper and fry up a large pinch to test for seasoning.
  • Correct seasoning if necessary.
  • Shape into 10 meatballs.
  • Roll the meatballs in the bread crumbs.
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan.
  • Add the meatballs and cook over high heat for 1 minute on each side to brown.
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook gently for about 10 minutes.

Best with cooked spinach or Swiss chard with butter and salt.