It could be because we really don’t eat them very often here. As you may or may not have heard, even though it’s probably the most popular menu item in Italian restaurants abroad, Italians in Italy really don’t do the whole “spaghetti and meatballs” thing–and if they do, the meatball is huge and served as a second dish after the pasta. Usually.
I say usually because in my house, I make the meatballs much smaller, like my grandmother taught me, and we (yes, including P) eat them right alongside the pasta–just like I love them. But only if they’re homemade.
When I was in the States, you see, I never, ever ordered meatballs in an Italian restaurant because I knew I wouldn’t like them; fellow diners would get them, I’d try a bite, and nope. Never like my grandmother’s.
If you’ve never made meatballs (polpette in Italian; purpette in Calabrese), trust me–they really *are* worth your time, and they don’t actually take too much effort to make, especially once you’re past the stage of measuring anything, which I’ve been for many years. I used to be the meatball mixer and roller with my grandmother on Saturday nights after church, and some things just stick with you, you know?
I’ll never forget how cold my hands would get while digging into the mixture. My grandmother used to run warm water over them when I’d complain too much, but then I was right back to work.
So below is my grandmother’s recipe for this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday. Measurements are extremely approximate, but they are the ones she gave me way back when, and now they are yours.
Meatballs – Polpette – Purpette
- 1/2 lb ground veal
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- 2 teaspoons onion powder or 1 onion very finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 large clove of garlic very finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- olive oil (for frying)
1. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and combine until the mixture sticks together.
2. Roll into golf-ball sized balls.
3. Fry in hot oil, turning with a wooden spoon until all sides are browned.
4. Add to sauce of your choice and let simmer for at least fifteen minutes to be sure the meat inside is cooked.