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Meatballs with Porcini Mushrooms

Meatballs with Porcini Mushrooms
I've been playing around with porcini mushrooms lately and came up with these dangerously addictive little meatballs. I think it's the combination of the porcini, the fennel and the nutmeg that gives them their allure. They are particularly good with a serving of spaghetti dressed with a simple tomato sauce. Alternatively, made half as big and equipped with a toothpick, they make a successful and pleasingly retro hors d'oeuvres if stationed on a warming plate next to a bowl of tomato sauce.


Meatballs with Porcini Mushrooms

Serves 8 (about 24 meatballs)

Ingredients

  • 3 oz pancetta, chopped (or bacon)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 rib celery, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms, soaked 10 min in 1 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup panko flakes (or bread crumbs)
  • 3 T parsley minced
  • 1 T fennel seed, ground
  • 1/4 fresh ground nutmeg
  • salt, pepper to taste


Method

1. Sauté pancetta, drain on paper towel. 

2. Sauté onion, celery, carrot and garlic in the pancetta pan. Remove to a side plate. 

3. Drain porcini and sauté in the pancetta pan 3 min on medium heat. Remove to a side plate.

4. Add the wine and porcini-soaking liquid to the pan (pour carefully and leave the last teaspoonful in the bowl, to avoid grit) and reduce to  syrup over high heat. 

5. Chop porcini. 

6. Mix ground meat, egg, pancetta, parsley, sautéed vegetables, mushrooms, panko, ground fennel seed and nutmeg. 

7. Correct seasoning using Julia Child's method (sauté a teaspoonful of the mixture, taste).

8. Form meatballs approximately 1 oz each - about 24 meatballs.

9. Sauté on medium-high heat until pink inside and drain well. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Estimate 8 Servings (3 Meatballs each). Per serving: 138 Calories; 14 g Total Carbs; 2 g Dietary Fiber; 2 g Sugars; 4 g Fat; 60 mg Cholesterol; 98 mg Sodium; 14 g Protein. Weight Watchers: 3 points.

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