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Feb 6, 2018
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WINE WITH…Pork and Veal Meatballs in Brandy Cream Sauce

Traditionally European in both style and flavor, this preparation lifts meatballs from familiar everyday fare to a sphere of greater elegance and complexity. Veal is lighter and more delicately flavored than beef, and Italian cooks generally add pork when they are making meatballs or ragu, both for its sweeter taste and finer, fattier texture. You can ask the butcher to grind both the veal and the pork for you.

Serve the meatballs over rice or orzo that has been drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a little parmesan.

Pork and Veal Meatballs in Brandy Cream Sauce

Serves 4

If time permits, the meatballs will hold together better if you refrigerate them for at least a couple of hours, or freeze them for about 30 minutes, before cooking.
1 pound each ground pork and veal
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup finely minced shallot or onion
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup brandy
1 cup beef or chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400°.

In a medium bowl, combine the ground meats, panko, shallot, and the seasonings. In a smaller bowl whisk the egg, then add it to the other ingredients. Mix everything together thoroughly but do not overwork it. Form the mixture into 8 to 12 meatballs. When you are ready to cook them, put the olive oil in a large, sturdy skillet (cast iron works well). Heat the oil and add the meatballs, working in batches if necessary. Cook the meatballs over medium-high heat, turning them until they are well browned on all sides. Remove them to a sided baking pan lined with parchment. Bake them for 20-30 minutes or until they are cooked through.

Meanwhile, pour the fat out of the skillet. Wipe it out with a paper towel but do not wash it. Add the butter to the pan and cook until it is foaming, then pour in the brandy. Cook it for a minute or two over high heat (or you may flambé it if you like). Add the stock and cream, and cook over medium-to-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is reduced by about a third. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Divide the meatballs among four serving dishes and ladle the sauce over them.

* * *

We found that red wines worked best with these meatballs, and that the best partners were reds with fairly soft tannins and echoes of spice or earth complementing their more forward fruit flavors. Especially if served on a wintry evening, this is a rich, satisfying dish. The wine you choose should have a similar profile.

Connect  on Twitter:   @M_L_Thomas  and  @Wine_With_
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Approx. Price



Viña Cobos





(Imported by Paul Hobbs Selections)


Ripe red and black fruit flavors are augmented by secondary notes that hint at black licorice, giving the wine an enticing level of complexity. Very smooth and supple, its lush texture complemented the brandy cream sauce especially well.

Thomas Goss

McLaren Vale



(Imported by Wine Trees)


Full-bodied but not especially muscular, this Aussie seems to overflow with sun-drenched flavor. It tastes warm and inviting, so seems ideal for cold weather drinking—particularly when paired with an equally sumptuous dish.

Laurence Feraud

“Plan Pégau”



(Imported by Hand-Picked Selections)


This non-vintage “Vin de France” comes from grapes grown just outside the boundaries of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and the wine exhibits similar characteristics to the more renowned ones made there. It’s meaty, especially in the bouquet, and offers plenty of savory spice in addition to ripe fruit. That spicy component paired nicely with our meatballs.

Santa Barbara Winery

Santa Ynez Valley





Unlike most California renditions of the grape variety, this Syrah tastes very dry and seems almost brooding. There is absolutely nothing sweet or sappy about it, so it is far more food friendly than most others. With this particular dish, its dark fruit and earthy undertones were given a lift by the sauce.






(Imported by Opici Wines)


The lightest wine we are recommending in terms of body or weight, this Rioja (made with 100% Tempranillo) nonetheless offers plenty of enticing flavor. Besides bright cherry-scented fruit, it offers a leathery undertone that gives it unexpected depth as a food partner.