While we can all agree that the movie Lady and the Tramp made spaghetti and meatballs famous, that’s not the case in our bella Italia. Putting meatballs in a spaghetti dish is a cardinal food sin that will make all Florentines shake their heads in bemusement. If you want to stay true to authentic Italian cooking, here is our recipe for making polpette so good you won’t want your spaghetti getting in the way of it.
1 pound of lean ground beef
3/4 cup of shredded day-old Italian bread, crusts removed
1 pint of milk
1 large egg, or 2 small eggs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup of onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
Oregano, Salt and Pepper
Bread crumbs for rolling meatballs (optional)
Soak bread in enough milk so that it is wet through, about 3-5 minutes. Drain it by squeezing gently–you want the bread pieces to be moist but not soggy or dripping.
Combine the milky bread in a large bowl with the ground beef, egg, garlic, onion, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Knead the mixture until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Taking a spoon, form meatballs about 2.5 inches in diameter and place on a plate or flat dish. If you like, you can then roll the meatballs in bread crumbs.
Put a large skillet on the burner and add the 1/4 cup of oil. When the oil is heated, add the meatballs a few at a time (don’t crowd them in the pan or they won’t cook properly). Make sure to turn them over often so that they are browned on all sides.
You can serve the meatballs plain or covered in any sauce of your choice (we recommend a tomato-based sauce). Enjoy!
As I (sadly) finish up my final days in Florence, I’ve been reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned and the memories I’ve