Category Archives: MEATBALLS

SAN MARZANO COCKTAIL MEATBALLS…

007Time to discuss one of my favorite food subjects…the MEATBALL.  Let’s start out with this tidbit, there’s no such thing as the “ITALIAN MEATBALL”. Why you ask?  Because I said so.  And here’s why…there are meatballs of all shapes and sizes and ingredients made all over Italy.  Most likely you’re assuming the meatball in the big pot of sauce is the “Italian Meatball”.  Well that’s certainly one of many. Meatballs as a cocktail party or party food are fantastic since they are small.  They work well at a party and are generally a one bite affair.  For parties one of the meatball recipes I’ve developed is the SAN MARZANO COCKTAIL MEATBALL.  What is that all about? Scenario, you’re at a party…you’re dressed up..nice suit, shirt, dress, whatever.  You pick up the meatball out of the pan or platter and it’s dripping with sauce.  YIKES! Big sauce stain on your tie…or your chest and the shirt.  Down your blouse or onto the front of your dress or skirt.  Now you’ve done it!!  But you really want that delicious sauce flavor with the meatballs right?  Let’s mix this up a bit…for a cocktail party…or any party..add the sauce TO the meatball mix, then make the meatballs and simply serve on a tray, platter or bowl with toothpicks.  This recipe is made in two parts. first the sauce, then the meatballs.  To start:

THE SAUCE (which becomes one of the ingredients in the meatballs)

1 28oz Can SAN MARZANO DOP Tomatoes, or any good variety of Imported Italian Plums or Domestic Plum Tomatoes

2 TBS OLIVE OIL

1 SMALL FINE DICED ONION

SEA SALT

PEPERONCINO

3 FRESH BASIL LEAVES

In a sauce pan heat the olive oil and then add the onion, season with salt and peperoncino.  Let this cook until the onions are translucent and soft.  TIP: if you get impatient the onions will never really soften in the tomato sauce and you’ll have crunchy onions in the mix.  Be patient.  Take your time.  No rush.  Once your onions are soft add the tomatoes which you will crush with your hands first in a bowl, then add them to the pot.  Add one basil leaf and bring this to a boil, stir, then to a simmer and let this reduce for 1 hour, stirring frequently, until it’s reduced by about 1/2.  Add the remaining 2 basil leaves, taste for seasoning and let it sit off the flame to cool completely.  Should take about 2 hours.

MEATBALLS  (makes about 30 ish)

3/4 lb GROUND CHUCK

1/4 lb GROUND VEAL

1/4 lb LOOSE SWEET ITALIAN SAUSAGE MEAT

1 JUMBO EGG, beaten

handful of chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup dry italian breadcrumbs

1/4 cup of the Sauce you made (that recipe above ^^^^)

3/4 cup freshly grated PECORINO ROMANO

2 FINELY (stressing the FINELY) MINCED GARLIC CLOVES

2 TBS OLIVE OIL

1/2 CUP ITALIAN WHITE WINE

In a large bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese, parsley, S & P, Sauce, Garlic together.  Let this sit for 20 minutes. Why? we want the sauce to hydrate those breadcrumbs.  Your Panada (write it down, it’s the Italian word for a breadcrumb/bread mix moistened with eggs, herbs, oil,liquids like milk or water, etc. which forms the binding for the meatballs.  See, we are learning…I love teaching and sharing my food with you!!)  Since there’s a significant amount of liquid in the sauce (which is why we reduced it) you want those breadcrumbs to suck up all that moisture which in turn doesn’t steal moisture from the meats and balances the end product…dry crumbs on their own suck moisture from the meat and other sources.

Blend all the meats together.  Then add to the Panada after it’s sat for a while.  If it’s still too loose, add more breadcrumbs, but only a little at a time. Mix gently with lightly moistened hands (lightly, or you’re adding more water to the balls).  When fully mixed let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.  NOW start rolling walnut sized meatballs and line them on a parchment or waxed paper lined tray.  Chill for 10 minutes.  In a heavy skillet add 2 tbs. olive oil and heat.  Fry the meatballs for at least 5 minutes on each side without overcrowding.  Fry in batches.. Add more Olive oil as needed letting the oil get hot before adding more balls in the pan.  (why? the balls will soak in the oil..frying actually prevents that from happening).  When finished frying all the meatballs, deglaze the pan with the White Wine and gently add the meatballs back and simmer until the wine has evaporated.  Done.  Now serve with toothpicks to hungry guests OR let them cool…wrap them in pans and you can reheat them on trays in the oven for serving at your event/ party/dinner.  Meatballs and sauce all together  No drip. No stains.  No mess.    It was great cooking with you…hope to come into your kitchens again real soon!!!

 

 

 

 

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MEATBALLS WITH A SICILIAN INFLUENCE, CREATING A RECIPE, POLPETTINE IN BIANCO

0041Meatballs….one of those perennial favorites, all kinds, all types, all cuisines.  One of my missions with my food blogging and Social Media posting is that people open their minds to meatballs other than the usual suspects. Oh I’m not saying that your favorites aren’t fantastic but instead I’m saying look beyond the familiar and there’s a world of other types to enjoy.  Standing at my stove last night it was St.Joseph’s Day (Festa di San Giuseppe) which is celebrated with much fervor by Italians, specifically Sicilians.  You see the good San Giuseppe saved Sicily from all sorts of bad things and as most religious legends and traditions  do, there is celebrating on the days these saints are honored.  For Sicily there’s a host of foods, and since March 19 falls during LENT when meat was forbidden to be eaten, all the dishes are meatless, emphasis on seafood and fish.  Confused? Asking yourself, um, then why a meatball post?  BECAUSE.  These are not meatballs for St.Joseph’s day but, as with all recipes, they have a development genesis. Ground chuck in the fridge….one daughter who doesn’t like anchovies in her pasta (which was the one of the St.Joseph’s entrees I made)…killing two birds with one stone meant to have something for my daughter, make meatballs out of that chopped chuck.  Easy. Then the recipe developer in me took over and I paired the Sicilian-ness of the day with my meatballs.  No these aren’t a traditional Sicilian meatballs but, again, recipe development has many influences and the Sicilian holiday gave me the inspiration.  Ground Chuck.  Sicilian Oregano.  Pecorino cheese. Black Pepper.  Eggs. Plain Breadcrumbs. Red Onions. Mix, roll, fry in Sicilian Olive Oil and simmer in a mix of that oil, red onion, basil and Marsala Wine, also from Sicily. Sicily’s cuisine does not always contain garlic, oh yes it’s used but Onion will show up more often.   Originally I was going to use White Wine and I named the dish Polpettini in Bianco.  Instead  I switch last minute to the made in Sicily fortified Marsala.  Still in Bianco because that Italian Culinary term means NO TOMATO.  See, more pearls of Italian culinary wisdom.  You’re Welcome.548528_2971219081903_1304531591_32189688_1417227459_n From my hometown of Staten Island NYC comes this picture courtesy of the Staten Island Advance of the San Giuseppe (St.Joseph’s) Procession.    How does any of this factor into developing a recipe? Again, my opinion only, but a good recipe is developed organically…things that should belong together create a special harmony and when you’re in a certain mindset you become even more creative. E COSI’. Let’s make POLPETTINI IN BIANCO.

TIME: 45 MINUTES                                    YIELDS: 25 WALNUT SIZED MEATBALLS, approx.

 

1 LB. GROUND CHUCK (80% lean, 20% fat)

1 LARGE EGG

3 TBS. FINELY MINCED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY

1 SMALL CALABRIAN RED ONION OR SHALLOT, finely minced

1/2 TSP SICILIAN DRIED OREGANO rubbed between your hands, or any good dried Oregano

1 TBS SICILIAN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL or another good Extra Virgin, preferably Italian

1/2 CUP DRY PLAIN BREADCRUMBS moistened (hydrated) with 3 tbs milk or cream

1/2 CUP FRESHLY GRATED CACIOCAVALLO OR PECORINO CHEESE

1/2 TSP SEA SALT

1/2 TSP BLACK PEPPER

2 TBS OLIVE OIL (or use the same you used above)

1/2 CUP MARSALA WINE OR WHITE WINE

1/8 CUP STOCK OR WATER

2 FRESH BASIL LEAVES

In a large bowl beat the egg and add the cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, all but 1 tsp of the onion, salt and pepper,the tbs of Extra Virgin Olive oil. When this is well mixed together, add the meat and gently blend till it’s all one mixture. Let this rest for 5 minutes. Form into Walnut sized balls and line on a foil or wax paper or parchment paper covered baking sheet.  In a large wide and heavy skillet heat the 2 TBS of Olive Oil and in batches add the meatballs and let them fry for about 6 minutes,397224_3628916283922_1247137950_n then turn, fry for another 4 minutes.  remove them all to a platter keeping them covered until done.  In the pan add the remaining onion and saute for 3 minutes then add the stock and the Marsala, bring to a boil.  Add the basil leaf then the all the meatballs and reduce to a simmer.  Let this simmer for 15 minutes but stir a few times.  Done.Remove from the flame and  give gentle stir.  Let them sit for 15 minutes…then serve.  Wonderful with roasted potatoes and a green sauteed vegetable.  Enjoy making these PURPETTINE CU’BIANCU….what’s that?  POLPETTINE IN BIANCO in Sicilian.  More fun saying it that way I think.  Happy Cooking!!

SICILIAN STYLE SAUSAGE MEATBALL STEW..SPEZZATINO CON POLPETTE DI SALSICCIA

img_3252SPEZZATINO!!!! The Italian word for STEW…although the word STUFATO means stew also, don’t ask, I don’t have an answer for that.  I think SPEZZATINO sounds nicer.  On the island of Sicily they have a SPEZZATINO culture, over in the Palermo region where they stew meatballs with potatoes.  Sounds like heaven.  A few years ago my friend Rose Marie Trapani, a native of the Palermo, Sicily region talked about her Mamma’s Meatball and Potato stew.  I had to make it. I loved everything about it.  In Sicily they also use the term SPEZZATINO AGGRESSATO DI POLPETTE CON PATATE…more new Italian and Sicilian words to increase your culinary vocabulary!! I like!!!  However, the stew I made last night was BASED on the principles of the Spezzatino Aggressato but I must drop AGGRESSATO from my recipe title.  My meatballs in this recipe are made from Sweet Italian Fennel Sausage Meat.  Into the stew I add Broccoli Rabe, Onions, Potatoes, diced Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Borlotti Beans and a nice red wine from Sicily, from REGALEALI, a NERO D’AVOLA.  What flavors in this stew! Notice I say Sicilian Style only because I created this dish in my kitchen with things from my pantry and fridge that went well together, it’s not a bona fide Sicilian dish.  I try to be careful about my Recipe titles. When I had a bowl of the Spezzatino the next day  I added some ricotta to the mix.  WOW. Not only did it taste better like all stews do the second day but the ricotta was a very tasty addition!  I’d advise making this on one day, and serving it the next.  Truly remarkable Italian-Siclian flavors.  It has that “Grandma” taste..are you with me here? Capisci??? Good.  Now we can start to cook.img_3231

First, we make the POLPETTE DI SALSICCE…the Sausage meatballs, made a bit smaller than a Sunday Sauce meatball.

TIME: 1 1/2 HOURS, prep and cooking                              SERVES: 4

1 LB LOOSE ITALIAN SWEET FENNEL SAUSAGE MEAT

1 BEATEN LARGE EGG

1 CUP STALE ITALIAN BREAD, SOAKED IN MILK AND SQUEEZED

2 TBS CHOPPED ITALIAN PARSLEY

1 CLOVE FINELY MINCED GARLIC

1/4 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO OR PROVOLONE OR CACIOCAVALLO CHEESE

1/8 CUP RED WINE ( A RED SICILIAN, LIKE NERO D’AVOLA FROM REGALEALI IS FANTASTIC)

(do not add any salt to these meatballs as the sausage meat is already salted/seasoned and we are adding grated cheese)

Blend the garlic, parsley, bread with the beaten egg.  When combined, add the sausage meat and blend everything until it is well mixed.  Let it sit for 15 minutes covered, then form into small balls.  Fry the balls in Olive Oil. Reserve in a bowl. You will need to cook in batches.  Deglaze the pan with 1/8 cup of the Red Wine scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour this over the meatballs.

for the SPEZZATINO:

2 TBS. OLIVE OIL

1 DICED MEDIUM ONION

6 QUARTERED CREMINI MUSHROOMS

2 SLICED CLOVES OF GARLIC

1 DICED AND SEEDED TOMATO

2 CUPS of GREENS (chopped Swiss Chard, broccoli Rabe, Turnip Tops, Escarole, Spinach)

1 CUP of diced peeled POTATOES

2 CUPS OF COOKED BORLOTTI OR CANNELLINI BEANS

1 CUP OF RED WINE

2 CUPS OF CHICKEN STOCK

SALT, PEPPER TO TASTE

In a large heavy bottom pot heat the olive oil.  Add the onions,mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and then add the potatoes.img_3232 Let this cook for about 10 minutes   stirring frequently. Now add the tomato and the greens. Cook for 5 minutes, Add the garlic and when fragrant (about 2 minutes) add the beans.

img_3233  Mix.  Now add the wine first and bring to a boil.  The aroma is amazing at this point. Stir and then add the chicken stock and add stir. Add the Sausage Meatballs and any of the liquid that has collected in the bowl of sausage balls. img_3234Gently stir and bring to a boil again. Then reduce to a simmer.img_3236Now let this simmer until much of the liquid is reduced.  You want a sort of thick stew here rather than a soup (and that’s why it’s a SPEZZATINO!!!). This process should take about 40 minutes.  Keep an eye on this so it gets to the right consistency.  Frequently stir the pot.  When it’s done let it sit at least 3 hours before serving. Next day is even better.img_3238

Before serving, drizzle lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, peperoncino if you like, and of course grated Parmigiano or Pecorino. A hearty bowl of flavors with a Sicilian Twist.  Potatoes and Meatballs in a stew…Sicilian genius and comfort food.  A few other ingredients and it’s Minestrone meats Sicilian Meatball Stew…fantastico!!!  A nice Sicilian Red, like the Nero D’Avola you used in the Spezzatino goes great with it…img_3241

 

 

 

 

SWEET N SOUR RETRO MEATBALLS…MEMORIES FROM MOM

newyears16 001  The hardest blogpost to compose is the first one of the year.  So many are  profound, dripping with sweet sentiments, hopes for the year ahead…so, after a day of getting stressed for absolutely nothing the idea came to me.  It’s New Year’s but blog a recipe that is “non-holiday specific” but works well for New Year’s Eve.  How do I know that?  I know that because my Mom used to make this, a close version to the one I make every New Year’s that we were home.  She also made it for all of her and Dad’s cocktail parties  before their VFW dinner-dances and affairs back in the 60’s and 70’s.  This whole recipe is RIGHT out of a MadMen script.  I’ve A FOOD OBSESSIONED it up a bit, leaving some of Mom’s RETRO ingredients right where they should be.  They cannot be changed.  They are the underlying taste of this recipe.  I’ve made this with fresh pineapple and mandarins. Omitted the Maraschino Cherries. What made the dish so….MOM…and wonderful was gone.  So I went back to the original canned Pineapples, in their own juice…Maraschino Cherries with that almondy cherry taste…and the unique taste of the canned mandarin.  I did change the size of the red peppers in the sauce…Mom’s were a chop..too much pepper.  I fine dice so they basically add flavor without getting in the way.  I am thinking like the amateur food historian I think I am (I said I THINK I AM, lol) and i’m going to say the genesis of this type of meatball recipe comes from that late 50’s early 60’s fascination with the American notion of POLYNESIAN culture..  Trader Vic’s, Hawaii Kai…these were trend setting restaurants from San Francisco to New York City.  “Exotic” ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil, curries were being mixed into typical American bar foods, like meatballs and chicken on sticks, Beef on sticks.  Truth be told nothing in the Polynesian food culture ever was this sweet or sour at the same time.  Add a Pineapple to your cooking, you were soooo Polynesian.  Stick some palm trees and the hanging monkeys on your drinks with some umbrellas, that was 60’s retro “Oriental-Polynesian” food and drink to us on the mainland unless you were of Polynesian or other Asian extraction.  Then you knew better but fed Americans these sweet and sour concoctions at the eateries, but maintained your real food culture at home.  Today we live in a much better time to be eating…we know the difference and we appreciate both versions when done right.  Sweet and Sour meatballs to many mean Ketchup and Grape Jelly in the crockpot with a simple seasoned meatball.  Let me take you to BALI HAI…to BORA BORA…to RARITONGA….thru the eyes of the 60’s…vv6 Some memorabilia from those days..from the Trader Vic website.  The American-Polynesian cuisine was full of fruity syrups and tastes.  Trader Vic sold a sweet and sour style meatball in their restaurants.  I was fortunate to have been to a few before they changed or closed.  Mai Tai anyone??   Let’s travel from a Trader Vic or Hawaii Kai into my kitchen with my Mom watching us recreate one of her “specialities”!  Trader Vic’s may have called them PUPU meatballs…PUPU signifying an appetizer.  You can make these as a PUPU or as a main dish. over fluffy steamed Jasmine rice with a bit of chopped cilantro in the rice.

 

MAKES: 36 or so MEATBALLS                    time: 1 1/2 hours

 

MEATBALLS:
    • 1 1/2 lbs  ground beef and  ground pork blended together
    • 2 large eggs, beaten
    • ½ cup PANKO breadcrumbs
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tsp. Sri Lankan or Madras Curry
    • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
    • 3 diced strips of  bacon and 1 medium onion, diced, sauteed till the bacon is cooked and the onion is soft
    • 1 ½ teaspoon Soy Sauce
    • 1 finely minced garlic clove
    • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
    • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1/2 tsp. sambal olek or ground chile garlic paste
    • 1/2 can drained crushed pineapple
    • flour for dusting
Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 (14 0z) cans of crushed pineapple (less 1/2 cup of the drained for the meatballs above)
  • 1 can Mandarin Oranges
  • 2 tsp. finely minced red peppers
  • 1/8 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup ketchup
  • 1 (14 oz) can pineapple tidbits
  • 1/8 small bottle of maraschino cherry juice plus 10 cherries
  • pinch of cloves, nutmeg, ginger

First let’s dice that bacon and onion.  In a large skillet cook them down until the onions are soft and the bacon is cooked and add the sesame oil. Now add the breadcrumbs and let them soak those bacon drippings and get a little toasty. Add the garlic. remove from heat. Let this cool.  Now add the dry spices and blend well.  In a large bowl add the eggs. Then the breadcrumb mixture and the pineapple.  Mix.  Then add the meat and work until it’s a homogeneous mixture.  Form into about 36 walnut sized balls, you may get more. Then roll in flour.  Fry them in a lightly oiled non stick pan till browned on all sides.12459533_10205459127099976_1330698243_n  Cook the meatballs in batches as you need room between them all so they don’t STEAM. STEAMING is not an optimum cooking method for meatballs.  Keep the meatballs on a platter, lightly covered with foil while you are cooking the balance of them.  Done?  Good.  Time to make the aromatic sauce.  In a saucepan, gently heat all the ingredients except the cornstarch.  Bring this to a boil, REDUCE to a simmer.  In a bowl whisk together about 1 ladle of the simmering sauce and while whisking slowly add the cornstarch until it’s smooth.. Then while stirring the sauce with a whisk slowly pour in the cornstarch and lightly whisk till blended.  Bring to a slow boil and then stir and lower to a simmer.  Keep stirring until the sauce is thickened.  Now Add the meatballs to the sauce, or place them in a baking dish and pour the sauce over them.  Let this cool down and then tightly wrap and refrigerate when totally cooled down overnight.  You can reheat them in the oven, at 350 Degrees F covered for 25 minutes.  Or into a crockpot to keep warm.   Or on the stove pot, just stir them gently.  Your finished product will look like this: 001 How good does that look?? Like 1965?? I think this will change your mind from the frozen bags of meatballs heated thru in a ketchup and grape jelly sauce.  I’m not knocking that..but I think this recipe will make you happy.

 

 

BROCCOLI RABE AND SAUSAGE MEATBALLS WITH ORECCHIETTE

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Chances are, you have seen recipes for broccoli di rabe, a bitter green of the broccoli family, many many times.
Perhaps you have had this delicious vegetable, sauteed with garlic and oil, and other aromatics..or stuffed into
a bread, or paired up with pasta, tradtionally orecchiette (little ears).  This pasta hails from the once dirt poor
regions of Puglia and Basilicata and is merely a mix of flour and water and some deft finger handling.  In our
family, years ago, my Grandmother and her sister in law Caterina Luberto (Zi’Caterin) would spend what seemed
like hours making a cavatelli like orecchiette like pasta and I would stare mesmerized by their quick hand
movements.  I wish I was older and had paid more attention to the intricacies of this pasta production.  Most
supermarkets now carry the factory made orecchiette which is made with the typical pasta recipe used in
most dried macaroni.   It’s good…but not great. The real texture and flavor is from the Bronze pressed Artisinal
or the handmade(best) dried orecchiette from Italy.  The bronze pressed I buy when I can’t find the handmade
ones.  Handmade are more rustic in their shape and texture..the bronze ones are delicious…OK, what are
bronze pressed pastas?  The pasta dough is forced through a special bronze press which roughs up the
exterior of the pasta.  This way, the sauces adhere much better to each piece.  Pricey, yes.  How often are you
eating orecchiette..???  I knew it.  So splurge at the specialty Italian store for a lb. of good orecchiette.  Or
you can find them thru on-line sources.  They usually retail for between 3.99 to 6.99.

Feeling like I was bored with the
usual pairing of sauteed rabe with sausage and orecchiette…I improvised and altered the ingredients..but did
not “change” the ingredients.
Ecco la!  There is the change-up.  I chopped up the broccoli
rabe and added 1/2 of it to sweet fennel sausage meat making meatballs out of them…sauteed them..
then sauteed the rest of the rabe with garlic and oil, a little red chile pepper flakes, then tossed in the pasta and
let it get sort of brown on the edges.  Then added the meatballs and there you have it.

LET’S COOK!
For 6-8 people, use 1 lb. of Orecchiette….cook according to directions, and drain.
Remove the meat from 1 lb. of good Italian Sweet Fennel Sausage in its’ casings.  Add to a bowl.  Add a 1/2 cup
of grated provolone or pecorino, 1 finely minced garlic clove, and 1/2 a bunch of well chopped steamed broccoli
rabe.  Try to not use much of the stem, stick with the tender thinner parts and the leaves.  Add 1/2 tsp. black
pepper. NO SALT!  Remember, the sausage is already salted.  Now add 2 tbs. of breadcrumbs and with your
hands blend well and form into small walnut sized balls.  In some good olive oil, fry these on medium for about
7 minutes on one side, 5 on the other..You are cooking these all the way through.
Let’s stop right here with another idea.
Party season is on its’ way…Holidays and all that (stress and/or fun)…make these as an hors d’ouevres instead
of the usual party meatball.  Sprinkle them with a little cheese and serve with toothpicks or on a platter..nice!

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Ok…sorry for the detour…Add some olive oil to a large pan, heat, add 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp. of red
chile flakes..stir for 30 sec. then add the remaining chopped broccoli rabe…stir then add the pasta and mix
well.  Let the pasta get a little brown in some spots..this should take about 5 minutes. Sitr well, add 2 tbs. of
grated cheese and serve with the meatballs on top.

Check out those crispy edges on the orecchiette…the different flavors and textures in this dish make it
very satisfying.  At the end of the day, I’m feeling good about changing the look of a recipe to make
it a little (or very) different yet staying loyal to the traditional taste and ingredients.  No, you cannot use
turkey sausage,,, no you cannot use spinach…no you cannot use Bowtie pasta.  Stick with the com-
bination that has worked for years and years…Maybe someday I’ll remember Zi’Caterin’s pasta
making technique…

MORE MEATBALL MADNESS..VEAL AND LEMON POLPETTINE WITH GRAPE TOMATOES

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If you plan on coming on this culinary ride with me just be warned, I love meatballs in every shape, size, meats or other ingredients, any cuisine, but of course I’m going to always fall back onto my Italian roots.  As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs open your mind to the reality of the Italian meatball, it’s not one type or recipe.  Most likely when you hear the word you are seeing the Sunday Sauce type served up with pasta.  Very delicious, everyone loves them.  However there’s a bunch of regional varieties that are sure to become a welcome addition to your recipe file.  Meatballs are served as their own main course, along with vegetables and potatoes.  In Italy the pasta will always come as a PRIMO and be a course before the SECONDO, or second course.  This recipe is a mix of different types of this POLPETTINE which is made delicious with the addition of ground Mortadella and lemon and it’s more of an Italian Salisbury steak, a patted down small oval rather than a ball.  Don’t be confused my friend, it’s all good.  Very good!  Years ago I had a similar dish which I was told was from the Abruzzo , a region in Central Italy.  I’ve also heard that this type might be found in Sicily OR Tuscany. Either way it’s moist, full of flavor and very very satisfying.  Ready to cook?  I am.  Let’s GO!!

SERVES:  4-5                                    TIME: 1 HOUR

1 LB. GROUND  VEAL

1/4 LB. FINELY CHOPPED MORTADELLA

1 LARGE BEATEN EGG

1 MINCED CLOVE OF GARLIC

4 SLICES OF GOOD WHITE BREAD OR 1/2 CUP STALE CRUST REMOVED ITALIAN BREAD, SOAKED IN MILK, THEN  SQUEEZE  THE MILK OUT.

1/2 CUP PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO

1 TSP. LEMON ZEST

JUICE OF ONE LEMON

2 TBS. OF CHOPPED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY

SALT, FRESH GROUND PEPPER

PINCH OF GROUND NUTMEG

OLIVE OIL

sifted FLOUR (about 3 tbs)

1 PT. SLICED CHERRY OR GRAPE TOMATOES

3 SLICED CLOVES OF GARLIC

JUICE OF 2 LEMONS

1 TBS. SALT CURED CAPERS

2 TBS. VERMOUTH

SALT, PEPPER

3 sprigs FRESH OREGANO

ADD THE CHEESE, GARLIC, PEPPER, NUTMEG, ABOUT 1/4 TSP. SALT, LEMON ZEST AND JUICE ALL WITH THE EGG. Then using your hands mix the bread in followed by the ground mortadella and ground veal.  Continue to mix until it’s all well blended.  Form into about 8-10 patties no more than 2 1/2 inches long.  Dredge on all sides in unseasoned unbleached flour. Let sit for a moment.  In a large skillet heat about 1 1/2 tbs. olive oil and gently brown the POLPETTINE, about 5 minutes per side.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Don’t crowd the pan and don’t rush this!! Have a glass of Vermouth for yourself, just sayin. Relax. Cooking is fun.  You should have fun.  I want you to have fun!  I’m having fun so you should too!  Remove the polpettone to a platter and cover with foil.  Add a little more olive oil to the pan and OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAadd the garlic and when they are just above golden, like in 2 minutes then add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil then reduce for 3 minutes.  Now add the polpettine back into the pan and make sure the sauce has covered all sides of meat. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For whatever reason I didn’t take a pic of the polpettone in the pan, but  let this cook for at least 8 minutes.  Now add the juice of 2 lemons and the capers.  Check for seasoning, adjust if possible.  Let this cook now on low until the juice is reduced by 1/2.  Then you are done!  Garnish the platter with fresh oregano.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Of course I’m thinking I”m the pro food stylist for this photo shoot (lol..hardly any of that..I just had radicchio in the fridge so it became a bed for the polpettone.  Arrange on a plate and coat the polpettone with tomatoes and garlic, there should not be a ton of sauce..but it’s deliciously concentrated. The egg, cheese, and the soaked bread plus the mortadella add moisture to the patties and they do not dry out.  Wanna see inside of one?? Ok. Here is it—>OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Shoe String or Thin Cut French fries and a plate of sauteed greens goes great with this dish.  A crisp white wine, or sparkling water with lemon are a great accompaniment for the Polpettine.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Doesn’t that look good?? Believe me yet about the world of meatballs?  And they are NOT all Italian either!  More to come…

Happy Cooking for now and enjoy the Lemon Veal Polpettine!  I love when you are cooking with me!!

 

 

 

 

CHICKEN PROVOLONE MEATBALLS AS A MAIN COURSE OR APP

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These are not to be confused with a meatball you drop into tomato sauce, please.  I’ll never forget that dark day when my mother upon the advice of her nutritionist switched from beef and pork meatballs for her Sunday sauce to turkey or chicken.  Now in theory the nutritionist was giving some good healthy advice..less red meat, less fatty meat, more lean poultry.  I get it.  The piece that my dear late mom was never told by the good doctor was that unless it’s 100% white meat and/or natural or organic free range etc, that ground poultry was close to or at least as high in many of the things she was trying to avoid.  Are you shocked?  Will you run now to Foodbabe (not a fan, just saying) to see if this is correct?  I’ll help you out..this is why..when something is termed ground chicken or turkey it means ANY part of the bird is used..like the dark meat..yes, succulent and flavorful, but fatty.  It means skin, yes, delicious and wonderful on a roasted or fried bird, but when you are buying that ground poultry is mixed up into the meat and basically is fatty filler.  Look closely at that label.  BROTH and additives along with water are added and hello..that means salt.  Salt is not the enemy, i’m not advocating that, but if you are trying to stay “lean” or be more healthy, ground turkey for example is loaded with extra “flavorings”.  A grind of beef is generally just ground beef.  Pound for pound you are buying a processed product…so does this mean I’m anti-ground poultry?  Absolutely not.  Great product when you are buying it in it’s simply ground form.  Unfortunately as with most of our American accessible food supply, it’s not that easy to find and generally ridiculously priced.  Not a fair way to play, but, it is what it is.  So when does A FOOD OBSESSION use ground poultry?  Lots of ways, for apps, for stuffings, for breakfast sausages, for meatloaves, and for meatballs..but not with tomato sauce unless it’s a Mexican style sauce.  The most popular ITALIAN way of eating meatballs is as a main course and only certain regions pair them with a sauce and pasta meal.  Let this blog post be a detour from the usual, i love taking detours, there’s a world of different out there to explore!  This recipe is a common type of meatball dish which is served with greens, a salad, potatoes, usually roasted in olive oil, garlic, and rosemary or some herbed raw tomatoes, especially if they are in season.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  For this meal I paired it with some beautifully colored and ripe local heirloom tomatoes simply dressed with extra virgin OLIVE OIL, fresh OREGANO,  ground BLACK PEPPER and SEA SALT.  Let’s go into the kitchen and get this Chicken Meatballs (POLPETTE DI POLLO) started and PLEASE, this is not the WAY TO MAKE CHICKEN MEATBALLS, it’s ONE of virtually an endless combinations to make an endless number of meatballs.

MAKES: 20 meatballs                            TIME:  40 minutes

1 lb GROUND 100% ORGANIC  OR NATURAL CHICKEN, WHITE MEAT OR A BLEND (BLEND IS BETTER ALL AROUND, TRUST ME)

1/4 CUP GRATED PROVOLONE CHEESE (FROM ITALY, NOT DOMESTIC AND SHARP)

1/8 CUP WHOLE MILK RICOTTA

1 FINELY MINCED CLOVE OF GARLIC

3 TABLESPOONS ITALIAN BREADCRUMBS, MOISTENED WITH A LITTLE WHITE WINE

2 FRESH EGGS, BEATEN WITH BLACK PEPPER, PINCH OF SALT, 3 TBS. FINELY MINCED PARSLEY

1 TSP. FRESH CHOPPED BASIL

OLIVE OIL

WHITE WINE

1 WHOLE CLOVE OF GARLIC

FLOUR FOR DREDGING

at least 10 WHOLE BASIL LEAVES

In a large bowl, blend the ricotta, provolone, breadcrumbs, eggs, and basil together.  Then add the ground poultry.  Do not over blend.  Form into 20 medium sized meatballs, about the size of a large walnut.    Roll the balls in sifted flour shake off excess.  Chill for 10 minutes.  In a skillet add 1  1/2 tbs. olive oil and heat on medium.  Smash that clove of garlic and add it too the pan. Remove when it just begins to turn golden.  Now in batches depending on the size of your pan gently fry the meatballs till browned on all sides, remember this is chicken…so this  should take about 10 minutes per batch.  If you find the meatballs are getting too brown your heat is too high.  Reduce.  They should look like this before you remove them:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Toss a few basil leaves over them..then discard (why? it’s just flavor for now, we’ll return to the basil shortly). Keep the finished balls warm in on a covered plate there is one more step.  When you are done frying the balls, add a little more olive oil, then deglaze the pan with about 1/8 cup of White Wine, or Vermouth, or Marsala and bring to a boil, then simmer. Add the meatballs gently to the pan and let this simmer until the wine is pretty much evaporated.  Let those chicken balls (sounds dirty) soak up all that flavor.  Takes another 10 minutes.  Let them sit for 5 minutes before serving and drizzle extra virgin olive oil over them, coating them so they look “glazed”.  Serve with more basil leaves on top.  NICE!!!  Happy Cooking!!

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