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No longer relegated to the menus of pizza parlors and red-sauce Italian joints, meatballs are suddenly as popular with foodies as Peter Pan collars and polka dots are among the fashion set. At his new Georgetown restaurant, Bandolero, Mike Isabella gives the traditional dish a new taste by spiking Spanish-inspired meatballs with fiery sambal oelek chile sauce. The chef pairs the tender meatballs with a pureed yellow soffritto and unexpected garnishes like pickled onions. At home, you can just as easily make a case for the meatball movement by serving them with a simple tomato sauce.
Though sambal oelek is an exotic ingredient, this chile-garlic sauce can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores. Isabella’s preferred brand is Tuong Ot Toi Vietnam, a very spicy chile paste sold in Asian markets.
Swap traditional tomato sauce for a minted yogurt sauce, which brings out the meatballs’ Spanish flavors.
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