Polpette della Nonna (the very humble meatballs)
How many of you recall that famous scene from Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp”,when, as they fall in love by the suave notes of “Bella notte” being played on the mandolin, the dogs share a strand of spaghetto and Tramp nudges the last meatball over to Lady, as his promise of love and devotion? Everytime I cook spaghetti with meatballs I can’t stop myself from feeling utterly romantic, even if the dish itself is the most humble and unpretentious and even though Richard would rather set his own hair on fire than hand over the last meatball….Many and varied are the recipes for polpette. Pretty much every Mamma and Nonna in Italy will tell you they hold the best one, and so I have to go with my Mamma’s and Nonna’s and pay tribute to their moist mixture of mince and other loveliness.
Ingredients for 4 people
2 slices of stale bread, crust removed, cut into chunks
1 cup of milk
1 lb (450 gr) of premium beef mince
1 handful of chopped up parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground white pepper
1 brown onion, chopped up
1 garlic clove bashed with the back of a knife
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of red wine
2 tins of tomatoes
1 cup of water
salt to taste
spaghetti or crusty bread to serve
1. Soak the bread in milk for about 10 minutes.
2. In a bowl, mix together the beef mince with 1 egg, salt and pepper, chopped parsley, the tip of a s teaspoon of grated nutmeg and grated Parmigiano (or Grana Padano) . Use a spoon if you feel squeamish about touching raw meat, but in my opinion hands are your best kitchen tools.
3. Squeeze the milk out of the bread ,add to the meat mix and amalgamate.
4. Using the palms of your hand, roll the polpette the size of small manadarins and set aside in the fridge to firm up for 15 minutes.
5. In the meantime, pan fry the chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is soft and translucent.