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Guest Recipe: Sotto's Grilled Pork Meatballs

sottomeatballs1
Local food writer Cathy Chaplin has recently authored Food Lovers' Guide to Los Angeles, an exploration of everything that makes eating in L.A. such a joy. Included in the book are a few recipes from highly-regarded local restaurants, and we managed to snag one of them! Consider these for a holiday party -- as a main dish or an hors d'oeuvre.
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Sotto's Grilled Pork Meatballs with Snap Peas, Pecorino, and Bitter Greens

Southern Italian cooking in all its rustic and hearty glory is celebrated in style at West Los Angeles' Sotto. After years of working together in restaurants across Los Angeles and Orange County, Chefs Steve Samson and Zack Pollack finally stepped out on their own in 2011. The menu here, which features blistered Neapolitan pizzas, twisty handmade pastas, and lesser-known regional specialties, is a reflection of the chefs' shared passion for traditional Italian cooking. Nearly every table starts with an order of these Grilled Pork Meatballs with Snap Peas, Pecorino, and Bitter Greens. The crisp, cool salad pairs spectacularly with the caramelized and charred meatballs.

For the pork meatballs

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped marjoram
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped sage
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 2 pounds coarsely ground pork shoulder
  • 2 whole eggs plus 3 yolks
  • 5 ounces grated pecorino Sardo
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fennel seeds
  • 4 ounces unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For greens and snap pea salad

  • 1 bunch wild baby arugula
  • 1 bunch baby mustard greens
  • 20 blanched and sliced snap peas
  • 1 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 2 sieved hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Prepare pork meatballs

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, sweat the onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, marjoram, sage, and rosemary and continue cooking until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, whole egg, egg yolks, pecorino, fennel seeds, bread crumbs, chopped parsley, and cooled onion mixture. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Knead the mixture thoroughly to ensure that the meatballs hold together while grilling. Refrigerate the farce at least a half hour before forming meatballs. Portion and shape the meatballs; each one should weigh about 1.5 ounces. Grill the meatballs over medium heat until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

Prepare greens and snap pea salad

Combine first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Dress with a squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place a small handful of salad on a medium-size plate. Place 3 grilled meatballs on top of the salad.


Attribution

Courtesy of Chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack of Sotto (p. 264)

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