The more I learn about Italian cooking, the more I wonder how these people stay so slim! I’m not talking about stuff you eat at Olive Garden or Spaghetti Warehouse. That’s Italian-American food. I’m talking about the real deal.
As an American, I always thought Italian food was loaded with creamy sauces, loaded with garlic, and lots and lot of parmesan cheese. I was surprised to learn… that none of the above are true! One of my fondest memories of Texas is going out to eat with Carlo. We went to an Italian restaurant in Arlington and when we ordered our food, the waitress asked Carlo if he wanted Chicken on his pasta. The look on his face was AWESOME… when he turned to her and said… “I’m from Italy, we don’t eat Chicken with pasta.” I wanted to laugh but I didn’t want to the waitress to feel bad. When she came back with our drinks she asked, “Are you really from Italy?”
Since moving here, I’ve learned what is and isn’t appropriate and what is just considered ‘schifo’ (disgusting).
So now…. I give you…. POLPETTE! (Meatballs) Yes, I’ve made meatballs before but I always burn mine and they never come out very good, but now
the real deal!
Let me say this first….THESE ARE NOT TO BE EATEN WITH YOUR SPAGHETTI!!!
You say: “What?” I say: “Yes…. that’s correct”. Spaghetti and meatballs are not eaten together. They are 2 separate dishes! You forget… Italians eat in Courses.
First Course: Pasta/Risotto/Minestra (soup)
Second Course: Meat-Beef/Chicken/Fish
—Side Dishes: Veggies/Potatoes/ etc…..
Fruit: whatever is in season
Dessert: gelato or crostata in our house!
We’ll discuss the dietary issues of Italian later (because it’s a good topic), but for now, let’s get back to the POLPETTE!!
Here’s a list of ingredients:
1- big crusty roll
1/2 kilo (1 pound) of ground beef (the more expensive, the better)
3-pinches of fresh chopped parsley
1- big pinch of salt
grated parmesan cheese (not the gross kind you find in the aisles- i’m talking about the ones you find in the specialty cheese sections)
for sauce (if you like)
350 g (about 24oz) Tomato Sauce
You need 1 big crusty roll. (at least 2 days old)
soak it in some water so it gets nice and wet
Once it’s completely soaked, squeeze all of that water out until it’s one pile of mushy bread.
Next, add your hamburger meat
then, eggs, parsley, salt, & flour
then add grated parmesan cheese- amount…. as much as you want! (maybe about 1/3 cup)
Mix all ingredients together (with clean hands of course) making sure the bread is well incorporated and there are no big chunks of bread left.
On a plate- (or paper bag like i did) spread flour. Roll each meatball to size and then roll in flour, then lightly patting each one.
(you don’t want to coat the meatball in too much flour but just lightly)
For the sauce: saute onions in oil on a low flame. (just enough oil to cover bottom of pot)
Add tomato sauce into pot and big to slow boil and stirring constantly. Once it is at a slow boil, transfer to a big pot or large skillet and put back on low flame and cover with lid.
In a separate skillet, heat olive oil on low flame. (not too much to completely cover the meatballs but a little more than just the bottom of the skillet) Once you oil is hot, add polpette.
Constantly turn the polpette so they are cooking evenly and not getting burned. Once they are starting to turn golden brown (on all sides), transfer the meatballs into the skillet with the sauce and cover with lid.
Continue until all of the meatballs are cooked in the skillet with sauce. **If you can’t fit all of the meatballs in the skillet with the sauce, then continue to fry until done. DO NOT over crowd the skillet so that you can stir the meatballs and sauce to prevent burning** Let meatballs simmer on low flame for about 20-30 minutes.
Carlo and I ate our with french fries because… well, it’s good! So, I peeled and washed about 4 potatoes and sliced them.
Using the same skillet (after washing it) I added my Olive oil and set the flame to medium-medium low. Then proceeded to fry!
Each time I put a new batch in the bowl, I made sure to salt them immediately.
Here’s Carlo’s plate. As we waited for the french fries, we ate most of the fried meatballs that did not fit in the skillet but left some so that I could take a picture!
So there you go! I loved it when my mother-in-law made them and now…. I can make them whenever I want!! (thanks to Carlo of course, for asking his mom to show me how to make them)