Italian meatballs recipe
“Heh, come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; ya make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs; heh…? And a little bit o’ wine. An’ a little bit o’ sugar, and that’s my trick.”
It may not be exactly Clemenza’s Italian meatball recipe but the next time you have to “take to the mattresses” it might be you that has to cook for 20 guys so it is worth knowing how to make something like the great man’s. They take a bit of time to make but once you get into the swing you wont notice, the trick to the perfect meatball manufacture is to just keep humming .. do do do do do do do doooo, do do do do do do do do doooo …
You may have spotted that we on Italian Food and Flavours like our films. I think perhaps we should create a blog just on food and drink from films. What do you think?
- 500g minced pork and beef
- 1/2 egg
- 2 tbls grated parmesan
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 1 tbls fresh oregano finely chopped
- 3 tbls dry breadcrumbs
- salt and black pepper
- for the tomato sauce
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbls butter
- 1 tbls olive oil
- 700g passata
- salt and pepper
- 100 ml full fat milk
- oh and dont forget "a little sugar"
- put everything in a large bowl and get in there and squidge, when mixed up roll a small amount - about the size of meatball - between the palms of your hands.
- Place the meatballs on baking trays and put in the fridge
- whizz the onion, garlic and oregano in a food processor. Heat the butter and oil in a deep, wide pan, cook the onion mix over low heat until the oil seperates, 10 mins or so. pour in passata and cup of water. pinch in your sugar and salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes more. add the milk, and using a spoon add the meatballs. leave the pan, if you stir too soon the meatballs will break up, once the egg has done its stuff you can stir gently.
- Cook for about 20 minutes, partially covered.
- In Italy the butcher will always mince the meat while you watch so you know what you are getting. Try this yourself, it does make a difference.
- Serve with tagliatelle.
Polenta evokes in me the stories of my grandfather his tales of hard times of war and times of hunger. Polenta in their era was a luxury that could be afforded only rarely. A a young boy listening to my grandfather’s stories I remember was like watching a black and white movie through his eyes. I saw ten, fifteen maybe even twenty people all gathered around a long wooden table in a farm house in the country. On the table was a large pot from which flowed steaming hot polenta. The group would enjoy together the only meal of the day. Today polenta recipes are basically very similar. Here is a version you can try, I suggest with seasonal ingredients of “Verza ripassata” cabbage and sausage to evoke those old stories of my Grandfather’s day
- 300/400g polenta
- 1 ltr salted boiling water
- In this variation I suggest combining polenta with other seasonal ingredients.
- To prepare the polenta boil a quart of salt water, just before the boil begin to add 300/400 g polenta flour a little at a time stirring constantly with a whisk. While cooking Polenta should have the consistency of cream, if it is too hard to add a little hot water. Once combined with the water and mixed to a smooth paste, cover and leave on low heat for 15-20 minutes stirring from time to time.
- At this time of year I serve polenta with "Verza ripassata" cabbage and sausage, with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, but the variations are many and are limited only by your imagination.
Cauliflower risotto, ai Cavolfiore Romanesco
A cauliflower risotto is the ultimate comfort food on a winter’s day.
The pointy, bright green Romanesco cauliflower is ready to crop from the orto now and is filling the shelves of greengrocers all over Le Marche. It is much tastier than the white cauliflower and a typical Le Marche style of preparing it is to cover the florets in a tempora type batter and deep frying before adding to an antipasti platter. Making a risotto with it sounds a little odd but really makes the most of this vegetable. I use grated mature Pecorino cheese from Cossignano market in the risotto as it has a lovely rich taste. So here is my Le Marche version of Cauliflower Cheese!
400g risotto rice
1 Romanesco cauliflower
a large onion, few sticks of celery and 2 cloves garlic
1.5 litres of vegetable stock
2 tbs olive oil
2 wine glasses of white wine
100g freshly grated Pecorino or Parmezan cheese
one handful of bread
small jar of anchovies
Chop the cauliflower, parting the florets from the stalk. Place the florets in the hot stock. Finely chop the stalk, onion, garlic and celery and with the olive oil make a soffrito (gently fry for 15 minutes or so)
Then turn up the heat and add the rice for a minute, then the wine. Stir continuously until the alcohol evaporates.
Add the stock a little at a time with the cauliflower florets and stir, stir, stir! It normally takes me at least 20 minutes until all the stock and cauliflower is incorporated and then taste the rice to see if it is cooked, but still al dente.
Take the pan off the heat and add the cheese and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, stir and leave for 2 minutes before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The bread and anchovies are blitzed, then fried to present as a crunchy topping for the risotto.
Italian food blog: Faggotini (Italian food parcels of wonder)
Faggotini are another specialty Italian food from the Ascoli region that we are pleased to include on our Italian food blog. They are small thin pancakes stuffed with a mixed meat filling severed with a bechamel sauce. Faggotini are served as a primo (first/pasta course) or as a light lunch. They are melt in the mouth delicacies and a neat alternative to ravioli to impress the guests. All the ingredients and methods are familiar and they reasonably easy to make. You can use a similar stuffing to the Ascoli Olives in the previous Italian food blog recipe or try the one here.
for the stuffing:
100g each of beef, pork and chicken or other white meat, all cut into small cubes
50g chicken livers
half an onion, a carrot and stick of celery
50g freshly grated parmesan
to flavour – salt, pepper, nutmeg and cloves
splash of white wine
for the pancakes:
100g plain flour
béchamel sauce to serve
Cook the onions in the oil until translucent, add the meats and vegetables and brown. Add the flavourings and the wine put on a lid and simmer for a hour or so on a low heat. Add a little water if it gets too dry. Allow the mixture to cool.
While the meats are cooking prepare the pancakes. Whisk up the pancake mix till smooth. Pour a small amount of the mixture into a small (15cm) frying pan in which you have a little sunflower oil. Tip the pan quickly to cover the base, when cooed through toss the pancake and brown slightly on the other side. Slide out of the pan and cook all the rest of the pancakes, they should be thin and lightly coloured and flexible not crisp. cover with a cloth until you are ready to assemble.
Back to the filling: mince the cooked meats in a mincer or food processor to a coarse consistency, mix in the parmesan, season to taste. Take a pancake and spoon a small dollop (technical term) of the stuffing into the middle. lift over the top, bottom, right and finally left sides of the pancake to cover the filling then turn the little parcel over and place in a oiled ovenproof dish. Do the same with the remaining pancakes and fill the base of the dish pushing the parcels together but not overlapping. Pour enough béchamel sauce to provide a scant covering of the parcels and put the dish uncovered in a hot oven (200 C) for 10/15 minutes. Everything is already cooked so you are really just making sure it is all lovely and hot.
serve with black pepper and parmesan – and a green salad if you are feeling desperate.
Read more authentic recipes from our Italian food blog