The perfect batch of classic Italian meatballs is earthy with herbs, bright with pepper, and well-salted. To achieve the correct level of seasoning, you need to taste-test your meat mixture before you cook it. But how are you supposed to taste a raw meatball? You don't have to; taste a cooked meatball instead. It only takes a few minutes to form a couple of small trial patties and fry them up.
More adventurous readers may be wondering: Why not taste a raw meatball? After all, people eat beef tartare and mett (a raw pork spread from Germany) every day. Firstly, the meat used for classic Italian meatballs isn't typically of the same quality a restaurant would serve raw. Meat doesn't taste the same raw as it does cooked, either; just heating food up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit can make it taste saltier. And, let's face it: Some people are grossed out by raw meat.
For all those reasons, it makes sense to taste test meatballs in the form you're going to be eating them: Cooked. Luckily, the process couldn't be more straightforward.
How To Prep A Meatball Trial Patty
When you taste-test your meatball mixture, you're not just making sure one meatball is perfectly salted and seasoned; it can give you an idea of how the entire batch will turn out. When a meatball blend isn't adequately mixed, there can be pockets of over- or under-seasoned meat.
That's why you should scoop out not one but two portions of meatball mixture to try out: Each from a different part of your mixing bowl. They should be small enough to cook quickly but big enough to give you something to chew on. A heaping tablespoon each should do the trick. These don't have to be perfect little meatballs. Instead, you can form thin patties that will cook up quickly.
Throw them into an oiled frying pan on medium heat. Cook them for a minute or two on each side until they're nice and brown. Et voilà! If they taste delicious, congratulations. You're ready to form and fry your meatballs. If they're somehow lacking, simply adjust the seasoning of your meatball mixture accordingly and taste-test until you're satisfied.
Other Recipes You Can Taste With A Preemptive Patty
Frying up a small patty is a great way to assess classic Italian-American meatballs, but it also works for any other recipe that uses a big batch of ground protein. Sausage patties are one example. Don't waste your time forming dozens of homemade pork sausage patties before you know that they actually taste good. Fry up a mini-patty first. (Psst, vegans: You can taste-test your tempeh breakfast sausage patties this way, too.)
This method also works well for Asian dumpling recipes. Putting together dozens of gyoza can take all evening. It makes sense to taste test the filling before breaking out the gyoza skins and finger bowl.
The fundamental idea is to cook a small portion of your protein to taste-test it before spending time preparing the whole batch. It doesn't matter what form you're shaping the protein into or even whether it's animal-based or not. By frying up a trial patty first, you ensure that the final product will taste great.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.