Meatballs can star on your menu in many categories
Meatballs have seemingly been around forever. Everyone’s grandmother has a special recipe. They’re on menus in all parts of the country; sometimes as a starter, other times atop pizza. They’re easy to make from scratch, easy to work with and always a hit with customers. What’s not to love about them?
With that in mind, is there a reason meatballs shouldn’t be on your menu? Moreover, considering the ease of making them from scratch, why wouldn’t you?
Many years ago, my friend and Pizza Today contributor — the late Pat Bruno – shared his love of meatballs with me. He taught me how he liked to make them, told me stories about them from his youth and taught me some tricks for keeping them moist. The thing that stuck with me the most, however, was the simplicity. “They’re just too easy,” he told me. “Everyone should be making them.”
He was right. They can offer a real point of difference for your pizzeria. He told me it didn’t really matter where you started — beef, lamb, turkey, sausage, chicken or pork. The important thing was to use the correct spices for the type of meatball you wanted to produce and to “use common sense” to ensure you didn’t make the meatballs too large.
Here is a very basic and simple meatball recipe that I know you’ll find delicious. We recently made them in the Pizza Today test kitchen — and they didn’t last long.
While I prefer a meatball appetizer with a flake or two of shaved Parmesan, you can obviously get a lot of mileage out of the ingredient on pizza. The recipe above is perfect for this use because the sausage in the meatball plays well with the red sauce and a variety of other toppings.
Speaking of sausage meatballs, we made a pizza with pepperoni, meatballs, yellow bell peppers, jalapeños and a hot honey drizzle recently in the test kitchen that was simple, yet delicious. After the fact, I really wished I had used John Gutekanst’s Chorizo Meatballs on the pizza. Shame on me. These are truly outstanding!
Without massive labor considerations, house-made meatballs are quick and easy to pull off from scratch in your kitchen. Adding them to your repertoire will not only lend a classic pizzazz to your menu, it will also satisfy your customer base’s desire for hot and filling comfort food as we move into colder weather.
I’ll leave you with a reminder that, as winter approaches, a simple meatball slider is a great menu addition that many find difficult to resist. And meatballs, if using the appropriate takeout packaging, travel very well — another important consideration as we head into our first “COVID Winter.”
When flu season hits during this current pandemic and people stay indoors more, expect yet another surge in delivery and carryout orders. Having a classic comfort staple that travels well available to your customers makes so much sense right now.
JEREMY WHITE is Editor-in-Chief of Pizza Today.