Growing up, my family moved all over the United States - and even Canada. Every new move brought an important mission - to find a decent Italian restaurant in the area. Seems like an easy task, right? Don't be deceived my friends....good home-cooked Italian meals are not easy to find when dining out - ESPECIALLY when we lived on the West coast.
I am still facing that problem today, living in Spokane, Washington (still waiting on tips for the good local Italian eateries here, people). But over the years I have come to not really expect much. No restaurant's sauce was like my mother's, and definitely NO restaurant could make a good meatball.
It was basically a lost cause. Trying to find a good meatball at a restaurant was like trying to find a Chevy in Rome - it just aint happening. So that was our family's cardinal rule - do NOT order a meatball when out at a restaurant. Even if the order of spaghetti came with meatballs onthe side - taste with caution was our mentality. After all, "sometimes spaghetti just likes to be alone!" (The whole concept of spaghetti and meatballs is totally med-e-gone, by the way.... but I'll save that for a different post!)
So needless to say we stick to making our own meatballs at home these days. And with the wonderful festa of Liberazione coming up, you have the perfect occasion to try this special family recipe. I'm going to do my best to come up with measurements - you know how Nonna's recipes never have tablespoons or cups involved!
But before I give you this precious recipe - I thought I might educate you on the humble origin of the meatball:
Food history tells us that meat was often for the rich. It was precious - so no part was wasted. The butcher's scraps were therefore saved so that people might get yet another meal out of their pricey meat. Meatballs were a way of using these scraps.
Before the invention of the meat grinder in the 1800's, leftover meat would have to be pounded or ground by hand or with sharp tools. Meatballs were a way of using these scraps.
A real antique meat grinder from back in the day!
Finally by 1845, a meat grinder with a rotating metal blade made ground meat available to the public. What a long way we've come!
Now, this is what I'm talking about! When my family owned an Italian deli,
this is what we used to grind our own pork for homemade sausage!
And now - we can grind pretty much any kind of meat we like. For my meatballs, I love the combination of beef, pork (substitute turkey if you're trying to be healthy), and veal. Nothing beats that combo. See for yourself -
UNA MAMMA'S POLPETTINI:
My kids love the mini meatballs, but you could
simply roll regular size balls with this same recipe.
- 1 lb ground sirloin
- 1lb ground turkey
- 1lb ground veal
- 2 1/4 cups bread crumbs
- 4 heaping TB grated romano cheese
- 3 pieces white bread (crust removed) soaked in milk until mushy
- 3 eggs, beaten
- salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste ( I like substituing a few teaspoons of fresh minced garlic to taste)
- vegi oil for frying
Mix all the ingredients together (BY HAND, please), roll them up to about the size of a quarter, and shallow fry them.
Then, let them finish cooking in some of your favorite marinara sauceBUON APPETIT!