Small plates are great for tapas-style entertaining, appetizers, or a lively midweek meal. A menu of savory bites usually includes at least one meat option, and these pork meatballs with basil and brioche pack incredible flavor. With a slight sweetness from the tiny pieces of bread, they also have a freshness that lightens up the pork, thanks to the abundance of basil that is laced throughout each piece.
Passing around dishes can break up the dinner routine, turning it into a time to unwind, slow down and share. Whether you are in the mood to relax and cozy up or to spark some conversation, the act of sharing small plates is as perfect for two as it is for a crowd.
1 pound ground pork
1 ½ to 2 slices of brioche
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 clove of garlic minced
½ teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon salt
Mustard Cream Sauce
½ cup half and half
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Most people have a preference when it comes to including bread or breadcrumbs in meatballs. I grew up eating ones made with small pieces of bread and prefer the less dense, less dry consistency they produce. Since small bites should be packed with flavor, I chose brioche for its rich, slightly sweet flavor, which pairs incredibly with pork.
While these meatballs are delicious on their own, they also can be served with a sauce such as the mustard cream option included here. A curry sauce would also work well.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, tear the brioche slices into small cubes. Add the pork, egg, basil, Parmesan, garlic, ground mustard, water, salt and a few turns of a pepper mill. Use your hands to combine the ingredients. Form rounded tablespoon sized meatballs and place them on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
When the meatballs are almost done, prepare the sauce by combining the half and half and mustard in a small saucepan. Cook and whisk over low heat for 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly. Add chopped basil and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and season with salt and a generous amount of cracked pepper. Serve sauce on the side of the meatballs.