I’m a self confessed hypocrite when it comes to culinary authenticity. I can be silently appalled that an entire nation believes Italians eat Spaghetti with meatballs while I happily chow down on General Tso’s chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala or Fajitas. The lines of authenticity have recently got so blurry for me that I will add cream and even Brussels sprouts to my sauce and still call it Carbonara – an abomination to purists.
So when I found myself yesterday with only a few leftover meatballs, I thought “why not?” and added a handful of pasta to my sauce to make the meal more substantial. Had I just stumbled on the origins of Spaghetti and meatballs? A similar decision made long ago by an Italian American with too many mouths to feed and not enough meatballs to feed them? Clearly authenticity stifles creativity in the kitchen and if we were all purists, some of the great dishes of the new world would never have been created.
Having said that, when researching recipes for meatballs from Swedish to Turkish, and everywhere in between, I unsurprisingly found myself returning to the pages of my ever favorite The Classic Italian Cook Book. I used a mixture of beef, pork and veal but feel free to substitute.
Italian Meatballs “Polpettine”
1/3 cup of milk
1 slice of good white bread with the crusts cut off (I use Italian Round Bread)
1/3 lb ground pork
1/3 lb ground beef
1/3 lb ground veal
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1 pinch of nutmeg
3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 jar of tomato sauce (We use Jar Goods Classic Red)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
2. Soak the bread in the milk for a few minutes and then mash together with a fork until it’s all blended.
3. In a mixing bowl, add the meat, onion, parsley, nutmeg, Parmesan and the bread mixture.
4. Add in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
5. Mix everything together well with your hands and begin to roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter.
6. Line them up on a baking sheet and then bake them for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned.
7. In a large frying pan, heat the Classic Red and when the sauce starts to bubble, add the meatballs.
8. Serve however you like them: with spaghetti, on a baguette, as mini meatball sliders or with toothpicks as an appetizer!