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In the kitchen with Patxi Azpiroz, chef of Patxi's Pizza: meatballs

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A few weeks ago, when I interviewed Patxi Axpiroz, the chef-owner of Patxi's Pizza, our conversation moved from pizza to balls -- meatballs, of course, which are popping up on menus at several local restaurants, including Cafe Bar, Gaetanos, Slotted Spoon and Spuntino. Some of those meatballs are funky and modern (look to the Slotted Spoon for proof), but the meatballs at Patxi's are nostalgically classic. "Our meatballs are rich, flavorful, satisfying and, well, amazing," says Azpiroz, who was willing to share his recipe. "Treat your sausage and beef with tender care in order to create delicate balls, and be careful not to overwork the mixture, otherwise they'll become tough when they're cooked," he advises.

See also: - Patxi Azpiroz, chef of Patxi's Pizza, on eating fried worms and pesto pizza proposals - Round two with Patxi Azpiroz, exec chef of Patxi's Pizza - First look: Patxi's Pizza will start flipping pies in Cherry Creek on Monday

Patxi's Meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef short rib 1 pound bulk Italian sausage 2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper 2 teaspoons Kosher salt 1 cup day-old bread crumbs ¾ cup whole milk ¾ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese 12 ounces fresh ricotta 1 egg, lightly beaten 1 tablespoon basil chiffonade 2 cups marinara sauce Wedge of Grana Padano for grating

Directions

1. In a large bowl, add beef, sausage, salt and pepper, and let stand. 2. Add milk and bread crumbs and beaten egg. 3. Add all remaining ingredients, expect basil and marinara, and gently mix by hand. 4. On a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, portion meatballs into 5-ounce balls. 5. Bake meatballs in a preheated 500-degree oven for 25 minutes. 6. When meatballs are done, transfer them to an oven-proof baking dish and evenly ladle marinara on top. 6. Refrigerate meatballs for 24 hours. 7. Reheat meatballs at 425 degrees, until hot all the way through. 8. Sprinkle fresh Grana Padano on top and finish with basil chiffonade.

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