Food is the new sex. This is hardly big news. But if this is true, where do we position meatballs? We normally find them sitting on a pile of overcooked pasta, or featuring in Walt Disney films where dogs fall in love. I think they deserve better press. Polpette are like those encounters you make on a night when you do not feel inspired to go out. You are tired, are wearing the wrong clothes, but you meet a very special person. It might last a day, a season or be for life. All you know is that it is going to be good.
You will struggle to find a recipe for meatballs (or polpette) in a French cooking book, they will not teach you how to prepare them during that expensive cooking course. Despite all of this, I think that meatballs, like the best things in life, are the result of very few good ingredients and a bit of luck.
Whenever I cook them, they are always devoured. The version enclosed below is my own version. It always changes slightly, but the result never fails to please my palate.
The best thing is, even if you forget one ingredient or you want to add a couple of other things, they always come out pretty well. I enjoy making meatballs, also because of the low level of craftsmanship involved and the playful side. Even a child can make it without struggling. And every time I make them, they remind me the ones that my grandma Carla was used to make: unforgettable and non replicable. The ethos behind meatballs is “how can I pull together a dinner, using the leftovers”. On the other hand, I consider them a dish that deserves its own identity and full respect.
Here is how I prepared meatballs a couple of days ago:
Onions: cut a big onion in small pieces and fry it lightly in a pan, with a bit of oil. Remove them from the pan once soft and gold
500 gr of mince meat, possibly lean
A slice of bread soaked in milk
Half teaspoon of curry or masala powder
A couple of tablespoons of grated cheese (Grana or Parmigiano)
A bit of oil
Flour, you will roll the meatballs in it
Vegetable stock, to dissolve in half litre of water
Optional: parsley, bits of ham or little cubes of cheese
All you need to do it to mix everything together with a wooden spoon, gently, leaving out only the flour. You will use it to roll in the meatballs and “seal” them so that bits of meat do not fall out. It is the type of preparation that you can do when your mind is elsewhere. Once you have made the balls – I usually use two spoons to choose the quantity and make them even – put them in a pan, hot with olive oil. Once all the meatballs are in the pan, pour over the hot stock a bit at a time. It will be absorbed very quickly. Turn the meatballs every couple of minutes. In ten minutes they will be done. I really love them when they make a thin and crispy layer on each side.
If you prefer the version with tomato sauce, once you get to this stage you only have to add a can of tomato sauce, add three table spoon of oil, a bit of salt and pepper, and let it cook for an extra ten minutes. The sauce will be absorbed in no time. Very good the day after, they can also be frozenphoto credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/iz4aks/5520680386/”>iz4aks</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a> photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/seventyoneplace/4467017981/”>seventyoneplace</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a> photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/chefpercaso/5143425684/”>chefpercaso</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a> photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mamma3/5380306909/”>Elga73</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>