She had to make sure it was edible before she could give it away.
So, on Saturday night, she cooked it with some tomato sauce and added mushrooms, then served it over pasta.
“It was good,” Lili Coleman said Monday. “Spicy, but I like spicy food.”
She was referring to her portion of The World’s Largest Meatball — the 1,707-pound, 8-ounce, concoction of the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head — which set a Guinness World Record on Saturday afternoon at Meatball Madness and the Italian Heritage Festival at Shelter Cove Community Park.
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The meatball took more than a year to plan, according to club president John De Cecco. It was a team effort.
Aside from club members who monitored the meatball as it cooked for the better part of the week, chef Joe Sullivan and his son Christopher mixed the ingredients. They used Marek Belka’s equipment at The French Bakery on the island. And they cooked the ton-plus of meat in a specially designed pod inside a custom-built oven, both the vision of engineer Joe Carpinteri. (A North Carolina company built the oven, and club member Kevin Lawless manufactured the pod.)
Make no mistake: Saturday’s event was focused on setting a world record. But because of the club’s generosity and the timing of Tropical Storm Irma, the effort will have the extra benefit, perhaps, of injecting a little Italian flavor into some Lowcountry residents’ Thanksgiving dinners.
Coleman, executive director of non-profit food-distribution agency Second Helpings, estimated she gave out more than a 1,000 pounds of the meatball to three local programs that help feed the area’s hungry.
Sandalwood Food Pantry, Grateful Hearts Soup Kitchen at Holy Family Catholic Church and Second Helpings’ Fill The Need Palmetto Breeze — all based on the island — had to “do some juggling with their freezers” to accept the meat.
“They deserve a hand clap,” Coleman said, explaining the charities had already stocked up with turkeys ahead of the meatball donation.
It wasn’t the largest donation Second Helpings — which last year distributed 2.5 million pounds of food — has given out, Coleman said. But the meatball was certainly unique.
The meatball was originally scheduled to be cooked in the fall, but September’s Tropical Storm Irma forced the club to reschedule the effort.
“It’s perfect timing,” De Cecco said. “I’m sure a lot of people will be happy to have it.
“So, hopefully, there’ll be a lot of people at Thanksgiving who won’t be eating turkey, but will eating the meatball instead.”