Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 pound ground beef chuck
2 teaspoons freshly grated Pecorino cheese
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 scant teaspoon ground cloves
2 quarts homemade or canned low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup pastina or other small soup pasta such as stelline or orzo
Combine the bread crumbs and milk in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium-size bowl, mix the chuck, cheese, lemon zest, salt, and cloves just enough to combine the ingredients. Gently mix in the bread-crumb-and-milk mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Form tiny meatballs using about ½ teaspoon of the mixture and roll each ball between the palms of your hands. To keep your hands from sticking, dip them in water occasionally.
Place the meatballs in an 8-inch baking pan or dish; bake them for 6 to 8 minutes, then remove them form the pan with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper-towel-lined dish to drain.
Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil in a pot. Stir in the pastina and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the meatballs, lower the heat to medium, and cook about 3 minutes longer. Serve immediately with additional grated cheese if desired.
NOTE: The meatballs can be made and frozen after cooking for future use. They'll keep for several months. Other broths, such as beef, veal, and vegetable, can also be used.
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