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chef column john ross meatball recipe

Photo by John Ross

meatball recipe john ross

On top of spaghetti

All covered with cheese.

I lost my poor meatball

When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table

And onto the floor

And then my poor meatball Rolled out of the door.

Excerpt from children’s song by Tom Glazer


The Harvest East End wine and food classic at McCall Wines in Cutchogue on Aug. 24 was another beautiful celebration of Long Island wine and food. It was attended by some 1,300 people who came to raise their glasses to the wineries and restaurants of the East End. Forty-three wineries and 34 chefs provided the food and wine.

Having participated in many similar celebrations myself, my heart always goes out to the chefs who have to prepare, transport and serve hors d’oeuvres to such a large audience on a busy summer night. Their only compensation is some publicity for their restaurants and the personal pride that comes with fine cooking.

Choosing something to serve that is creative, practical and not crazy expensive is always a challenge. There were many good choices of food to sample at this event, but two items especially caught my attention — and they were both meatballs. Upscale meatballs, to be exact, and they were prepared by Tom Schaudel of A Mano and A Lure, and Jeri Woodhouse of A Taste of the North Fork. Jeri created meatballs flavored with cHarissa, a condiment and spice blend created by Earl and Gloria Fultz of Greenport and available at several local shops. Here are my adaptations of these recipes for you to cook at home: 



Purchase 1 1/2 pounds of raw jumbo shrimp in the shell. Peel and de-vein half of them, saving the shells. Cut the rest of them into half-inch chunks, leaving the shells on. Set them aside with the reserved shells.

Coarsely chop the peeled shrimp and place them in a large bowl. Add to this 1 pound of ground veal. Chop 1 cup onion and mince 2 teaspoons garlic. Briefly sauté them in 2 tablespoons olive oil and cool. Add these to the shrimp mixture along with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese, 1/4 cup chopped basil, 1 large egg and 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs. Season with 1 tablespoon coarse salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Thoroughly mix these ingredients together with your hands and form into meatballs the size of a golf ball. Spray a sheet pan with no-stick and place the meatballs close together on the pan. Roast at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

To prepare the sauce, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan and add 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot and 1/4 cup chopped shallots. Sauté briefly, turn up the heat and add the chopped shrimp with their shells on and the reserved shells. Cook, stirring, until the shells turn bright red and the shrimp are cooked.

Pour 2 tablespoons brandy on the shrimp and ignite with a match, standing back to protect yourself. When the flame goes out, add 1/2 cup white wine and let it reduce by half. Add 1 cup fish stock (it is sold at fish markets or grocery stores) and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add 2 teaspoons tomato paste, 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs of thyme and a pinch of paprika and cayenne pepper.

Let this mixture simmer for 30 minutes and stir in 1 cup heavy cream. Simmer another 10 minutes and remove the bay leaves and thyme. Pour the whole mixture, including the shells, into a food processor and process until smooth. Strain into a saucepan through a fine mesh strainer, pressing the liquid through with a wooden spoon.

At serving time, bring the sauce to a boil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour it over the meatballs or serve it on the side.

Serves 4.



Purchase a jar of cHarissa and a packet of cHarissa spice blend. For the meatballs, place 2 pounds of ground lamb in a large bowl. Cut the crusts off of 4 slices of white bread, cut the bread into quarter-inch dice and place it in a small bowl with 1/2 cup milk and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

While the bread is soaking, add 1 tablespoon cHarissa spice blend to the lamb along with 2 eggs, 1/2 cup minced red onion, 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary. Add the soaked bread cubes and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. Season with 1 tablespoon coarse salt and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper. Combine thoroughly with your hands and roll into meatballs the size of a golf ball. Spray a sheet pan with no-stick and place the meatballs close together. Roast at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.


Add to a food processor 1/2 cup sesame tahini (Joyva brand is good), 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice. Process until smooth and add 1/2 cup water. Continue processing and add 2 teaspoons cHarissa spice blend along with 1 drained and rinsed can of chick peas. Add a little more water if it seems too thick.

At service time, place a spoon of the hummus on a plate alongside the hot meatballs. Drizzle the cHarissa jarred sauce over each meatball and sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro.


John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years.