Meatballs are a down-home food that rarely appears on menus but frequently shows up on kitchen tables in homes across the country.
Popular abroad but in a non-traditional way; Italians don’t plop them on top of spaghetti!
Rather, meatballs are the main course, usually cooked in wine or broth and served just like any other meat dish.
If they’re cooked in the tomato sauce, that sauce is used on the pasta, while the meatballs are held aside for the main dish.
They’re rather versatile: they can be fried or baked; simmered in sauce to add an element of richness to it, eaten as is, or braised in wine.
They can have just beef, or add veal, pork, chicken, sausage or ricotta to the mix, or even some spinach or rapini to give it a little extra nutrition.
Here’s a great recipe for the little balls of goodness, given to us by a retired Roman chef.
You can fry them, bake them or cook them in broth (or wine), as indicated here. Just don’t serve them on top of spaghetti! 😉
Roman-Style Meatballs Recipe
SERVINGS:4 to 5
- 1/2 kg (about 1 pound) of ground meat – try a 3-1 ration of ground beef and sweet Italian sausage
- 1 tbsp ricotta cheese
- A handful of grated parmigiano cheese
- A handful of fresh parsley, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 2 slices day old bread
- 1/2 cup milk
- Olive oil
- Beef or vegetable broth – about 2 cups (or white wine)
-Put everything into a big bowl, except the bread and milk.
-In a deep dish, put the bread in the milk to soak for a few minutes. When it has rehydrated, squeeze it out, then crumbled the bread into the bowl with the other ingredients.
-Combine the mixture well with your hands, then pinch off pieces of the dough and roll them into small balls.
Once you’ve formed all the balls, roll them very lightly in flour to coat (lightly!)
-Heat the olive oil in the skillet and saute the meatballs until lightly golden, turning as needed. Fry them in several batches if needed.
-Pour the broth into the skillet over the meatballs, and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and tender, and the broth has evaporated and cooked into a nice sauce to spoon over the finished meatballs.
Alternatively, you can bake them.
Or drop them directly into simmering pasta sauce to cook; this way, they lend some richness to the sauce while also absorbing the flavors into the meat – a win-win.
Fish them out to eat them, saving the sauce for the pasta.