Polpette alla Modo Mio
Region: Italy, Campania
There are many meatball recipes and this is the
recipe that I use and is the one that will remind you of home cooking in a big
Italian-American family. Most
nineteenth- and early twentieth century Italian-American immigrants came from
southern Italy, with Naples and Sicily
being well represented. In the old
country they were called polpette and
they were a way for these large and often poor families to stretch a lira and
use all that leftover stale bread. There
are some secrets to a good meatball.
Here they are: first, use ground chuck mixed with ground pork in a three
to one or two to one ratio. Soak Italian
bread in milk and squeeze it out and add to the meat so that it represents
about twenty-five percent of the weight of the meatballs. Bake or fry them before adding to a tomato ragù so they emit as much fat as
possible. I usually make a lot of
meatballs at once because they freeze so well and have many purposes from spaghetti
and meatballs to meatball heros.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 70 meatballs
Preparation Time: 1 hour
2 quarts cubed Italian bread with crust (1 ¼ pounds)
2 cups milk
3 pounds ground beef chuck
1 pound ground pork
3 large eggs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Place the bread in a bowl and pour the milk over them. Let soak until the crust is soft, about 20 minutes. Squeeze the milk out and put the bread into a bowl. Add the beef, pork, eggs, onion, parsley, salt, and pepper and mix well with your hands.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
3. Place the meat in a food processor and process in batches until pasty and smooth, about 15 seconds per batch. Pour some water into a bowl and leave near to where you will make the meatballs so you can dip your hands to keep the meat from sticking to them. Remove the meat to a bowl and form into balls the size of a golf ball using wet hands and place on an ungreased 11 x 14-inch baking tray.
4. Bake, without turning, until the meatballs are brown, about 40 minutes. Remove and use for spaghetti and meatballs or freeze for later use.
Note: Although the meat is cooked at the end of step 3, you can cook it for up 1 ½ hours longer if using in a ragù.
Although the meat is cooked at the end of step 4, you can cook it for up 1 ½ hours longer if using in a ragù.