Rick Rodgers is not alone when he sings the praises of the always-welcomed meatball. In the wide world of good things to eat, there is no food earthier, more versatile, more delicious, or more comforting than a good homemade meatball. As Rodgers says in I Love Meatballs!, "they can be grilled and dipped, simmered and sauced, fried and nibbled. They can be retro or upscale, and used in soups, stews, sandwiches, and casseroles." Rodgers, who loves meatballs enough to emphasize the point with an exclamation mark, travels from one world cuisine to another, hand-picking recipes to present the most savory meatballs, the best of the best, ones that have won his friends' and family's devotion. His choices may be rustic, elegant, or classic, but they are always sophisticated in their imaginative use of spices and sauces. Rodgers' meatballs can be eaten as appetizers, as a main meal, as a filling lunch in between hearty slices of bread. They may be made with pork, lamb, chicken, and turkey, even seafood. And when you've cooked all fifty of the recipes, you will want to play with ingredients yourself. Meatballs know no limits.
There is an art to making light meatballs, and Rodgers begins by analyzing the different meats (especially in terms of fat content), and giving decisive recommendations of what to look for in each variety of meat. He goes on to talk about those vital ingredients in a meatball - bread and cracker crumbs, then discusses what it means to use onions and garlic, eggs as a binder, cheese, salt and pepper. With ingredients under the belt, he proceeds to the delicate art of making light and tender meatballs. He has tips for mixing, shaping, and cooking whether pan-frying, baking, braising, deep-frying, grilling, and steaming. Rodgers misses no aspect of good meatballs and includes a section on chopping your own meat.
Discover the world in a meatball. Travel to Greece and taste Greek Keftedes with Tzatziki, or discover Asia with Beef Meatballs in Pho, Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs, or Fried Thai Pork and Shrimp Balls. Go to the Maghreb to taste Moroccan Meatballs, to Spain to taste Spanish Meatball Tapas with Sherry-Garlic Sauce, to Iran for Persian Meatballs in Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce. If you tire of traveling, stay home with a classic Checkered Tablecloth Spaghetti and Meatballs, or Grilled Cheeseball Sliders.
There are exceptional color photographs throughout by Ben Fink.