Tips for Meatballs,in Italy Polpette

Meatballs: everyone has a great recipe from his/her grandmother. And it is true, because meatballs can be made in many different fantastic ways. This recipe and suggestion are for those who have forgotten the family recipe.

FOR the MEATBALLS: Servings:4 persons

450 g mixed minced meat (with or without a pork sausage)                      150 g breadcrumbs

30 g grated Parmigiano          3 medium eggs             nutmeg           fine salt         

FOR the TOMATO SAUCE:

 350 g tomato sauce             1/2 glass white wine                     1/4 small onion

 aromatic herbs (thyme, oregano, marjoram ..)             extra virgin olive oil         black pepper            fine salt

For this dough you can use ground beef  and pork, adding a sausage becomes even better. The consistency of this meat depends a lot on the humidity contained in the ingredients, if the meat is freshly ground it is more humid as well as if the cheese is freshly grated, so if you see that the dough is too compact you can add a few spoons of milk. This kind of dough requires a long cooking to be soft. 

You can vary the amount of Parmigiano according to your personal taste and if you do not have the breadcrumbs you can use bread soaked in milk and then squeezed when it softens. The eggs make the dough compact when cooked and help keep it soft without crumbling, but if you prefer not to put them for some intolerance problem you can replace them with boiled potatoes, obtaining a similar consistency.

In a bowl put the minced meat, the breadcrumbs, the grated Parmigiano, the nutmeg and a pinch of salt.

Add the whole eggs and knead with your hands until you get a soft dough. 

If the dough turns out to be too compact, add a few tablespoons of milk to soften it.

Let the dough rest for an hour wrapped with plastic wrap in the fridge, in this rest time the bread softens and mixes much better.

Shape into balls, using something  like a ice cream server to get them all of similar size.

in a large, well-sized pan, put three spoons of oil and chopped onion, leave to fry for a few minutes, then add the meatballs (all together).

Brown them on all sides, add the white wine and let all the alcohol evaporate, then add the tomato puree and the aromatic herbs.

Add a pinch of salt and black pepper and cover all the meatballs with broth (or water). Bring to a boil then lower the heat and cook for at least 1 hour in a pan or if you want in the oven, stirring occasionally.

Adjust salt in sauce towards the end of cooking, this is because the water evaporates a lot and if you put too much salt at the beginning it could be too salty.

Some more tips

-In the meat mixture you can add the grated zest of half a lemon.

-When you put the meatballs in a pan, have them all ready in a round shape, adding them all in the pan at once ,you will have a homogeneous cooking.

-You can freeze the dough divided into balls and when you pick it up you thaw it and do the whole cooking process. Or freeze all the meatballs already cooked with the sauce, let them thaw completely and then heat them.

-Add cooked ham or finely chopped mortadella to the dough, or replace Parmigiano with another cheese

-Add peas or even fresh mushrooms or pepper  to the tomato sauce.

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