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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Polpette aka Meatballs

If you want to sound really American (nothing wrong with this) then try ordering spaghetti and meatballs at an Italian restaurant in Italy. Most likely they will tell you, it does not exist or they have never heard of it. Spaghetti and meatballs I’m afraid, are not eaten together in Italy. Meatballs are usually eaten as a second course all by themselves.

I stopped into my local butcher and saw that they had ground meat, seasoned and ready to be made into meatballs. After inquiring into what kind of meat it was, they informed me it was veal. Beef is also used as well as ground pork and ground sausage. The percentage of each kind of meat varies from kitchen to kitchen; this is what my resident Italian told me, with his encouragement I set out to give meatballs a try. The end result was a savory, moist and very tender meatball. My meatballs were a hit with the hubby. He said they were moist, very tender and flavorful. Not bad at all for my first attempt. I loved them enough to have them for breakfast the next morning.

My first attempt at meatballs.

Polpette aka Meatballs
makes 12-16 meatballs

1 pound of ground veal, or a mix of beef, veal, and/or pork
2 T. finely chopped, onion
1 T. finely chopped carrot and celery
1 pressed garlic clove
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 eggs
Bread crumbs or day old bread soaked in a bit of milk to moisten
dash of red pepper
dash of oregano
bit of chopped parsley
bit of Parmigiano, about 2-3 T.
tomato sauce

1. Sauté the onion, celery and carrot in olive oil until translucent and soft, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Set aside to cool.

2. To the meat mixture, add the cooled veggies, 1 egg, parsley, spices and seasonings, cheese and bread crumbs/bread. I did not measure the bread crumbs but estimate I added about ¼ C. The meat mixture should be moist and pliable with no clumps.

3. I usually test meat mixtures (won ton, etc…) for seasoning by frying up a small bit and tasting it for spices and salt. If necessary, add another egg and more bread crumbs or cheese. After the tasting, roll the meat mixture into meatballs, a bit smaller than a golf ball and sauté in olive oil until browned on all sides.

4. Place the browned meatballs in a sauce pan that just holds all the meatballs. Add enough tomato sauce to barely cover the meatballs, season the sauce with oregano, salt, pepper and stew the meatballs for 1.5 hours. Enjoy!

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At 1:59 AM, Blogger american girl in italy said...

YUM, those look great! I might have to give those a try with the hamburger I bought yesterday. :OP

At 2:39 AM, Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

This made me laugh! Just yesterday I was talking about the movie "The Big Night" in which an American woman was trying to order spaghetti and meatballs from an Italian waiter. She couldn't understand why they would NOT have meatballs and spaghetti. The waiter finally says to her "Looks, sometimes the spaghetti just likes to be alone"!

Can not wait to try out this recipe. It looks wonderful!

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Eulinx said...

They look amazing! (I'm getting hungry)
In some parts of southern Italy, like Puglia for example, they actually cook baked pasta with tiny little meatballs in the sauce.
But spaghetti taste better when they are all alone! ; )
Ciao ciao

At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Ivonne said...

This post reminds of the scene in the movie "Big Night" where this couple has a fit because their spaghetti doesn't come with meatballs. When the the restaurant owner tries to explain that they do not make meatballs, the couple is perplexed beyond belief.

Your post is spot on. Whenever my grandmother or mother made meatballs with sauce, we always had the meatballs separately, as a second course.


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