Meatballs, Meatballs, Meatballs…so many kinds, so little time. This post is going to discuss one of the most inventive types of “meatballs”. no meat at all, but a POLPETTE DI PANE, a Bread “Meat”ball. This is the Southern Italian version but by no means can the Italians lay claim to the bread and egg poached ball. As you travel in the North of Italy and to the countries of Central Europe you’ll find a thriving kitchen culture of DUMPLINGS of all kinds. This Southern Italian bread meatball is really a Dumpling. Dumplings in the central european region often are breadballs poached in a liquid. What makes these so tasty is that they are the flavors of a southern Italian or ItalianAmerican meatball without the meat. They make for a nice change, oh I’m not going meatless, but this is just another dish in the vast universe of Italian cuisine and should definitely be tried. Standard recipes call for Parmigiano-Reggiano. Not me. The taste of the cheese gets lost in this dish. Pecorino Romano is my choice here. It stands up to the braising and makes the balls taste so amazing. Simply make your Marinara Sauce as you normally make it. To make 12 POLPETETE DI PANE follow these instructions:
2 CUPS OF STALE ITALIAN BREAD
1 1/4 CUPS FRESH GRATED PECORINO ROMANO
2 TBS MINCED ITALIAN FLATLEAF PARSLEY
4 LARGE EGGS
1/2 TSP FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER
PINCH OF SEA SALT OR KOSHER SALT
Have your medium to large pot of sauce simmering while you make the “meatballs”. Using a food processor pulverize the bread into crumbs. Add the cheese, garlic, and parsley and pulse until they are blended. Add the salt and pepper. Pulse a few times. The next step needs to be taken care with. Add the crumb mix to a bowl. Beat 2 of the eggs and pour into the mixture. Blend well. Once that’s well combined, beat a 3d egg and mix in. Test your mixture now. Your mixture should be hydrated enough but needs to be firm so you can roll it into balls. If it’s still too dense, beat the 4th egg and blend. Conversely if the mixture suddenly becomes too loose, add some dry breadcrumbs till you get it to the right consistency. WHAT’S THE RIGHT CONSISTENCY??? You can form golf ball size Polpette di Pane without them falling apart or “drooping”. Line up the balls on a baking tray and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Bring the sauce to a low boil and gently drop the balls into the sauce gingerly stiring so they do not mash or break up. Let them simmer in the sauce for 20 minutes. Let them sit in the sauce for at least 1 hour before reheating and serving. What to serve with them? well….you can have them as a starter, an antipasto. OR you can serve them as a side (Italian lesson here…side dishes are called CONTORNI) with a salad, with grilled meats, or vegetables, or a roast. Be creative. I like them just on their own with a nice shower of grated Pecorino on top, some fresh basil. HAPPY COOKING! BTW, I say it makes 12, but it could be less or more 12 is a good average.