Spicy meatballs

Crispy, juicy instruments of seduction.

Published February 8, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

Micucci Meatballs (yields 18-22 meatballs)

1 pound lean hamburger (not extra-lean)

1 cup bread crumbs (or about 20 small squares soda crackers, rolled fine)

2 eggs

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

1-2 teaspoons milk (more as needed to achieve a loosely-textured mixture)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 clove of garlic

Olive oil for frying

2 to 3 quarts of marinara sauce (your choice, but should be thin enough to withstand up to an hour of simmering)

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon or gently kneading with your hands. Form silver dollar-size balls very gently with your hands.

2. Put about 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, adding a clove of garlic and just one or two red pepper flakes. When oil is hot, slide the meatballs into the pan with a spatula.

3. Turn the meatballs carefully so they are browned and crisp on all sides, but still slightly red in the center (for any fried meatballs that will be eaten without sauce, keep cooking until the center is brown). Place meatballs (leave garlic clove and pepper flakes behind) in marinara sauce and simmer for 30 to 60 minutes.

By Toby Sonneman

Toby Sonneman is a freelance writer in Bellingham, WA. She is the author of "Fruit Fields in My Blood: Okie Migrants in the West" (University of Idaho, 1992).

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