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Watch a Michelin-Starred Chef Make His Go-To Super Bowl Comfort Food

Jonathan Benno shares the ingredients and techniques that will help you make better meatballs.

Leonelli Meatballs nyc Photo: courtesy Francesco Sapienza

Jonathan Benno has worked in some of New York’s finest restaurants for decades. He’s cooked alongside Marco Canora at Hearth, Tom Colicchio at Craft and he was chef de cuisine at Thomas Keller’s Per Se when it first earned the three Michelin stars it holds to this day. After running Lincoln restaurant, he left a few years back to open not one, but three spots inside the Evelyn Hotel. He has his Michelin-starred Benno, the Roman trattoria-inspired Leonelli and Leonelli Bakery.

And since Benno is running some excellent Italian restaurants right now, Super Bowl Sunday for him means it’s time for Sunday gravy—and meatballs to go with it. In this episode of Robb Report Culinary School, Benno joins culinary editor Jeremy Repanich to walk through how he makes one of his favorite comfort foods pork-veal-and beef meatballs in marinara. He explains how he’s drawn inspiration from both his mother and chef Canora to create his take on a classic. And if you don’t want to make them yourself and you live in New York? You can just order them directly from Leonelli for pickup or delivery.

Odds and Ends and Additional Links

  • Your favorite canned sauce will work for this recipe, but if you’re making from scratch, buy some San Marzano tomatoes.
  • While you can eye your portions for your meatballs, the best way to do it accurately is employ an ice cream scoop, so all them end up the same size.
  • To sear off your meatballs, Benno recommends using a cast iron skillet.
  • While Benno admits his idea pairing with these meatballs is a Miller High Life, for those looking for a wine suggestion, he says you can’t go wrong with an Italian red like Chianti or Montepulciano.
  • You can follow Benno on Instagram @jonathanbenno and Repanich @jrepanich
  • Head to Robb Report’s Instagram page to check out more episodes of Culinary School, including Top Chef winner Mei Lin’s congee and James Beard Award-winner Chris Shepherd’s recipe for bacon chile jam.

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