Top Chef judge Gail Simmons first met Andrew Carmellini in 2002, when he was chef de cuisine at Café Boulud. She was working for chef-owner Daniel Boulud at the time and spent hours hanging out at the café, usually because its kitchen always had the best staff meal. One of the things she loved about Carmellini’s menu was the changing section highlighting a specific world cuisine. Carmellini left Café Boulud in 2005 and went on to open many of New York’s most successful restaurants, including Locanda Verde, where his lamb meatball sliders caused a national frenzy. Simmons’s own recipe owes a debt to his meatballs, as well as to her honeymoon trip to Vietnam. The combination of lemongrass, a few dashes of fish sauce and tons of fresh herbs creates a salty brightness to crave year-round.
Slideshow:More Meatball Recipes
4 shallots, 2 thinly sliced and 2 minced
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 pound ground pork
1 large egg
3 tablespoons minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon minced cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon canola oil
Bibb lettuce leaves, mint and basil leaves, lime wedges, chile-garlic paste
and julienned cucumber and carrot, for garnish
How to Make It
In a small bowl, mix the sliced shallots with the vinegar and a generous pinch of salt.
In a bowl, mix the pork with the egg, lemongrass, minced shallots and cilantro, fish sauce, cornstarch, garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Form into 1 1/2-inch balls.
In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the meatballs and cook over moderate heat until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve in Bibb lettuce leaves with the pickled shallots and garnishes.
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