In Demand: Dry-Aged Beef Meatballs

By

Caroline Hatchett
Megan Swann
Dry Aged Meatballs, Polenta, Tomato Sauce, and Arugula
Dry Aged Meatballs, Polenta, Tomato Sauce, and Arugula

There’s more than pastry magic happening at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate in Chicago. Earlier this year, Chef Amanda Barnes transformed ribeye cap scraps into her best selling menu item: dry-aged beef meatballs. Barnes buys the caps, aged for 60 days, from Illinois-based CDK farms for $5.96 per pound—a price that allows her to sell ribeye steaks for less that $30 a pop. She struggled (briefly) to find a home for the leftover trim, trying it first in a burger mix, but eventually settling on a meatball mixture of 75 percent dry-aged beef to 25 percent veal. Barnes binds the meat with breadcrumbs, roasted garlic, pecorino, Parmesan, milk, cream, butter, onions, extra virgin olive oil, and parsley. The rich, umami-fied balls are the center of a satisfying, no-bullshit nonna dish with a garlic-heavy San Marzano tomato sauce, polenta, and arugula rounding out the plate. The only downside of her economical dish development: demand got so high, she had to increase the price from $15 to $18, and nearly, if not all, of her beloved ribeye cap now goes to feeding the meatball beast on her menu. 

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