How to make the perfect meatball

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Chef Atif Ali, chef and owner of Meatball Hero & Pasta, is putting his own flavors on meatball subs. (WLS)

A local chef is being called the Chicago Meatball Hero! Chef Atif Ali, chef and owner of Meatball Hero & Pasta, is putting his own flavors on meatball subs.

The restaurant is located at 3037 N. Clark Street.

Chef Ali dropped by the ABC 7 studios to show how to make the perfect meatball.



Red (Beef) Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped chives
1 teaspoon fresh, chopped oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel

1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
Yield 10 2-oz. balls

Combine beef, herbs, seasonings, and bread crumbs in mixing bowl. Mix till well incorporated. Add egg and knead till combined. Portion into 2 oz. balls (or any size desired). Using an oiled pan or baking sheet with parchment, bake meatballs at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, turning once at the halfway point (note: times may vary if changing the size of meatballs). Serve in a baguette or on top of pasta with some marinara sauce.

Green Veggie-Ball (Gluten free/Vegan)

1 medium sized eggplant
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup cooked white beans (not from can)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 tablespoons ground oats or oat flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Yield 10 2-oz. balls

Dice eggplant and toss with a little oil, salt, and pepper. Roast eggplant in the oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until brown and tender. Coat the mushrooms with oil, salt, and pepper; roast at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let ingredients cool.
In a food processor, process the mushrooms to small pieces, but not a paste. Empty processor and cut the beans in a similar fashion. Empty processor, add eggplant and pulse a few times till pieces are roughly chopped. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mash with hands till everything is fully incorporated. Season to taste and let mixture stand in refrigerator uncovered for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Pull from the refrigerator, remix ingredients, and portion to 2 oz. balls. Line baking sheet with parchment and bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, turning once at the halfway point. Serve in a baguette or pasta. For gluten/vegan friendly try cooking some spaghetti squash or julienne yellow squash and zucchini (SquaZini!).

Polenta Fries - House Specialty!

1 pint heavy cream
1 quart water
2 cups white cornmeal
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine water and cream into pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and whisk in cornmeal. Cook at medium-low temperature for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and butter. Pour mixture into a 9x9 greased baking pan. Cut parchment to fit top and place into refrigerator overnight.

Pull out from refrigerator and loosen cornmeal from pan onto a cutting board. Cut polenta to desired fry size or planks. Dredge with a little flour and fry at 375 degrees for 2 minutes. For crispier fries, fry twice; letting them cool before the second attempt. Experiment with different flavors; add any additional flavors into cornmeal while cooking to create your own!
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