If there’s one thing that unites the disparate peoples of the world, it’s this: meatballs.
Nearly every country makes them and you know why—they’re delicious, comforting, and easy to make, as long as you follow a few basic rules: Start with high-quality, grass-fed beef, which is easier to find than ever (the supermarket chains Albertsons and Safeway, for example, now offer Open Nature Grass-Fed Ground Beef); we like an 85 percent lean/15 percent fat blend.
Before you start rolling, sample your mix—fry up a small amount of the mixture in a pan, taste, and adjust. For a tasty, caramelized crust, sear them in a cast-iron pan. (For smaller meatballs, such as the Swedish ones below, an oven gets the job done just fine.) As for flavorings, you’re limited only by your ambition: Moroccan harissa, French truffle paste, Szechuan peppercorns… These three variations take you to Sicily, Sweden, and Vietnam. Happy travels.