When people think of meatballs, they think, spaghetti and meatballs, and that’s good too, however, meatballs are also great as starters for a dinner party or a as a meal on their own with a salad.
Whether you serve them with your favorite tomato sauce, or (Italians please turn your head when you read the following dipping suggestions) serve them with a sweet and sour sauce or barbecue sauce, they will be a huge hit as appetizers.
Polpette’s as they are called in Italy, are one of those recipes where Italian families will claim theirs is the best recipe and the only way to make them. There are a variety of ways to make these mouthwatering, little balls, however, I will say that my version of polpette’s (a recipe handed down from my mother which was handed down from her mother in Italy) is one of the more delectable ways of producing a yummylicious meatball.
The secret to excellent meatballs is for them to be moist on the inside (you get the moistness by adding milk and bread as I will show you below) and golden brown on the outside with a bit of bite, so that you get a variety of textures, teasing your taste buds.
1 pound medium lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground pork
1 pound lean ground veal
1 cup milk
1 baguette (best to use a few days old bread, best if it is hardened, remove the crust)
1/4 cup Romano cheese (freshly grated)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (freshly grated)
3 TBSP Italian parsley (chopped)
2 eggs – (lightly beaten)
4 egg whites – (lightly beaten)
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper
Tear the baguette in small pieces. You can chop it up in a food processor if you like.
In a small pot, heat the milk, stirring constantly, until the milk is steamy.
Turn off the heat and remove pot from the stove.
Add the bread to the milk and let it soak, until all the milk is dissolved in the bread.
Mash it until the bread and milk resembles a paste.
Let the bread paste cool.
In a large bowl, combine the following: beef, pork, veal, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, eggs, egg whites, salt, parsley, black pepper, garlic and the bread-milk mixture.
Mix everything well with your hands. Try not to work the mixture too hard and for too long, as you don’t want the mixture to be too tough. You just want to work it so that all the Ingredients: are well blended.
Roll one meatball and if you find the mixture is a bit too wet, then add a bit more cheese (or some breadcrumbs).
If you find the mixture a bit too dry, add more egg whites.
You will able to tell if everything is just right, by rolling one ball, and if it all stays together in a ball, then you don’t have to add anything extra.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Prepare a baking sheet either by spraying a non-stick spray or lining it with parchment paper.
You can roll the meatballs any size you like. A good size for serving with a main dish (like pasta) is between two to three inches, however, for an appetizer, you can go smaller if you wish.
Place the meatballs on the baking sheet and bake until fully cooked through (about 15 minutes). The length of time that they need to be baked will depend on the size you are rolling the meatballs.
Alternative: If you’d like to add sweetness to your meatballs (again, F.BI.’s – Full Blooded Italians, please do not read this part) you can toss in a handful of currants into your mixture. Makes for a sweet and savory appetizer.
Enjoy in good health!