This week in The New York Times, Pete Wells reviews someplace called Parm. His intro points out the lack of coverage food snobs give Italian-American cooking -- red-sauce pasta on red-checkered table cloths -- despite that it's a prominent comfort food for millions of Americans.
That's why it's so painful to see the cuisine abused to the degree it is, and so inspiring to see a polished chef devote such care to something as common as a meatball sandwich. Check out what Wells has to say about just the meat alone.
The meat is juicy and rosy pink on the inside, the color of a perfectly cooked pork chop. The meatballs, made from veal, beef and sweet Italian sausage, are pink because they were braised at 180 degrees in a CVap low-temperature cooker for 40 minutes. They were braised at 180 degrees because Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone, the chefs behind Parm, studied fancy-restaurant techniques under chefs like Andrew Carmellini, Mario Batali and Wylie Dufresne.
This is the paragon of pedestrian cooking. I get giddy when someone devotes this much attention to a menu item that's considered common by most in the culinary world. That a chef would get this geeked out on a meatball brings tears to my eyes. Not because I'm sentimental, but because I have to go all the way to Manhattan to get it.
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I'm nominating John Tesar as the Dallas chef most likely to pull off the perfect meatball sandwich. We already know he likes to play with obtuse kitchen equipment, and he's also already done wonderful things the humble hamburger. Take the next step, Tesar. Build Dallas the perfect meatball hoag. The city will shower you with praise -- and parm.