Healthy Recipe, Pork Meatballs

Even if you’re inclined to pick the anchovies off a pizza or Caesar salad before biting in, you shouldn’t discount the value of keeping a tin or jar of the tiny, briny fish within easy reach in your cabinet or fridge. When finely minced and blended with the right ingredients to balance their funkiness, they can bring a welcome savory flavor to dishes that could use a lift of excitement. And as a bonus, they’ll supply you with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. These easy meatballs, adapted from “A Cook’s Book” by Nigel Slater, are a case in point. After mixing, they’re dredged lightly in flour and cooked in a sizzling skillet of butter and olive oil, giving them an extra- crispy and browned exterior. Then the excess fat is drained off, and a light sauce is made with chicken broth and the tasty bits in the bottom of the skillet. Served with a hefty pile of steamed or sauteed greens or other hearty vegetables, they require no other accompaniments — though a side of noodles or rice wouldn’t hurt. Serves 4-6. – Susan Puckett

1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
1 pound ground pork
Juice and grated zest of 1 large lemon
¾ cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 finely chopped tinned anchovy fillets (see note)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour (plus a little more if needed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken broth Instructions
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, pork, lemon juice, parsley, thyme, Parmesan, and anchovies. Season with salt and black pepper, then mix thoroughly with your hands to evenly distribute the ingredients.
2. Flour a large baking sheet. Using a tablespoon, form the mixture into 18 small balls, flatten them slightly, and place them on the floured baking sheet.
3. In a large, heavy skillet (preferably nonstick), heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Roll the patties lightly in the flour, then fry them in batches, about 8 at a time, about 4 to 5 minutes, until crispy and golden on both sides. Remove to a plate and repeat until all the meatballs are browned.
4. Lower the heat to medium-low, return all the meatballs to the skillet, and cook 6 to 8 minutes longer, turning once or twice, or until they develop a crispy, slightly sticky exterior and are cooked through.
5. Remove the meatballs to a dish and tip out and discard the excess fat in the pan. Pour in the chicken stock, raise the heat to high, and allow it to thicken and bubble for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring and scraping up sticky bits in the pan.
6. Divide the meatballs among serving plates and spoon the pan juices on top. (Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.) NOTE: Sodium levels in anchovies are typically high but vary quite a bit depending on how they’re processed and packed. (I used oil-packed for this recipe, which has a stronger flavor than pickled anchovies.) If salt content is an issue for you, you can give them a rinse first, or skip the additional salt called for in the recipe. Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

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