I love Cardano's meatballs sold in grocery stores. They taste strongly of Parmesan. I used their ingredient list to attempt to create their recipe. All ingredients fell in the "less than 2%" category, except ground beef and Parmesan. There is no bread or bread crumbs listed. To attempt to determine quantities of ingredients, I collected one or more recipes published by these Italian-American chefs and other good American chefs: Lydia Badtiniche, Mario Batali, Giada de Laurentis, Mary Ann Esposito, Rachel Ray, Bobby Flay, and Alton Brown. I chose American, not Italian, chefs because "spaghetti and meatballs" is an American invention.
Every one of the collected recipes included bread or bread crumbs. BUT the outstanding Carando meatballs does not. I prepared my recipe both ways. I mixed up the ingredients. Made half into "A" batch meatballs. Then I added bread crumbs and an egg, and made the rest into "B" batch meatballs. Both batches were grilled on a Weber with a Slow n Sear, which provides reasonably uniform cooking.
I used the meatballs to do blind taste tests using 8 people. Everyone, but one woman in her 80's, preferred the "A" meatballs with no breadcrumbs, both in texture and taste.
A really interesting find was that everyone could immediately taste the Parmesan in "A", but not in "B" as readily. That means that breadcrumbs in meatballs (and probably in meatloaf, also) diluted the flavor.
My conclusion: "Bye Bye breadcrumbs". They take away flavor, plus they made the texture much less pleasant.
I am interested in evidence about other additives in meatballs. To me, the breadcrumbs question was definitely decided. What experiences do you have with grated vegetables in meatballs?
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