Meatballs are one of the world’s great democratic foods, and chefs love them as much as anyone. There are endless ways to vary a meatball, from the type of meat to the fillers and seasonings. Here are upgrades from eight great chefs.
1. Jacque Pépin’s trick.
Instead of the usual ground meat, Jacques Pépin makes his meatballs with leftover roast beef, pork or veal.
2. Sicilian style
New York City chefs Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli add dried currants and pine nuts to their beefy meatballs.
3. Extra tender
When chef Nate Appleman cooked at A16 in San Francisco, he added ricotta to his stellar pork meatballs.
4. Extra healthy
Georgia chef Hugh Acheson serves his fennel–flecked veal meatballs over mustard greens instead of pasta.
5. Tomato-less red sauce
Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton serves her smoky ground lamb meatballs in a creamy red pepper sauce.
Seamus Mullen, of Tertulia in New York City, makes his herby lamb meatballs Spanish style, with ground almonds instead of bread crumbs.
Though New York City chef Alex Stupak’s meatballs look Italian, they taste Mexican. That’s because he makes them with tortilla chips and serves them in a spicy chorizo-and-chipotle-inflected tomato sauce.
San Francisco chef Charles Phan serves his sensational Vietnamese–seasoned pork meatballs on a banh mi sandwich.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and author of the forthcoming The Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016). She is also the cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.