Meatballs….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. 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, 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!!