If there’s one thing that springs to mind at the mention of Italian American restaurant “Frankie & Benny’s”, it’s ‘authentic Italian meatballs’. Or at least, it is if you mention it to a bunch of food-always-on-the-mind people like us. Even though the Frankie & Benny’s menu features all sorts of traditional Italian dishes, we always head straight for their delicious pork and beef meatballs or vegan meatballs with spaghetti.
So, for this month’s Meet the Chef instalment, we grilled their Executive Chef, Ben Keggans, on everything from their meatball ingredients to what makes them so good. And we found out a little about him whilst we were at it.
A traditional meatball recipe.
Although Frankie & Benny’s have just revived their signature dish with a new meatball recipe, they’ve kept the traditional elements of the restaurant classic. Ben told us “We developed a traditional meatball recipe with our Italian family supplier. It’s plentiful in flavour and has the softest texture. So, themeatballs melt in the mouth.”
Ingredient wise, Ben told us that Frankie & Benny’s only use “ground pork, garlic, lemon zest and seasoning, with a few bread crumbs to bind it all together. And because they’re New York style, they’re bigger which helps retain all those important cooking juices and makes for the softest texture.”
A special vegan meatball recipe.
All good things come in a vegan version too. And Frankie & Benny’s haven’t disappointed their vegan foodies by developing a vegan meatball pasta dish. Ben let us in on what goes into their vegan meatballs: “We also servepea and broad bean “meatballs”, served in a spicy tomato sauce with strips of roasted pepper and baked with vegan cheese.”
Christmas meatballs from Frankie & Benny’s.
Frankie & Benny’s are getting right into the Christmas spirit this festive season with their meatball-decked Christmas menu. One our favourites is their Turkey Meatball “10 Pizza: “We’ve used our meatball recipe, but this time used turkey instead of pork.” Paired with bacon, tomato & mozzarella and topped with rocket & cranberry sauce, it’s a real Christmas-Italian infusion. They’ve also added a Turkey Meatball Carbonara featuring “turkey meatballs tumbled in creamy carbonara sauce with crispy bacon and spaghetti.” Christmas dining out, sorted.
The Quick-Five Round.
My first cooking memory is… Baking cakes on a Sunday morning. Gingerbread and drop scones were a favourite.
My favourite music to cook to is… Nirvana and Pearl Jam. A sous chef in one of the first London hotels I worked in always insisted on it and it’s stuck with me over 30 years later.
Five ingredients I can’t live without are… Thyme, garlic, celery, parmesan and shallots. I like keeping things simple and using base ingredients correctly delivers amazing results.
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