Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Italian-American Meatballs, From a 1940's Recipe

There are as many "authentic" Italian meatball recipes on the web as there are stars in the sky with each chef making slight changes to their recipe to differentiate it from the others.  Of course my recipe dips back into the hallowed mists of antiquity to come up with something that an Italian would be proud to claim as their own.  Italian food was introduced into the US during the 1890's during the great wave of immigration from Europe.  It really didn't come into it's own though until the depression era when "Italian" food usually meant spaghetti with ketchup or some thin sauce and meat when it was affordable.  This recipe is adapted from "The St. Mary's Square Cookbook", St. Michaels, Maryland.  It was printed in 1966 but the recipes are older having been treasured family heirlooms shared with the museum to help in the restoration of the little old house built c.1700.

Authentic Italian Meatballs

1/2# Ground Chuck
1/2# Ground Pork or 1 Link Fresh Italian Sausage, casing removed

5 sprigs fresh Parsley (about 1/4C)
1 small white onion (2-3 oz)
2 cloves garlic
1 Egg
1/4 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Basil

1T Grated Romano or Parmesan Cheese
1/4 to 1/2 C breadcrumbs
1/2tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (Optional)

Start by peeling your garlic and mincing it fine periodically smashing it down with the flat of the knife, add to mixing bowl.  Mince onion extremely fine or grate with the fine side of a grater and add with garlic, finally pull leaves from stems of parsley and mince very fine adding to onion and garlic.  Throw in rest of ingredients and mix well with hands.  The consistency should be slightly damp as in a meatloaf and it should form a smooth ball readily.  If too dry add a touch of milk, too wet, a touch of breadcrumbs.  Place in refrigerator for 15 mins to let ingredients come together and rest. Remove from refrigerator and form into balls the size of a golf ball.  You should end up with about 16 meatballs.  Heat a heavy frying pan and add 3T oil to cover bottom.  When hot add meatballs taking care not to overcrowd the pan.  Using a spoon carefully turn meatballs to brown all sides.  When done remove to plate lined with paper towel and let drain.  A serving is about 5 meatballs placed on top of plate of cooked pasta and covered with sauce of choice.  Alternately, instead of frying, meatballs can be dropped directly into pot of sauce on stove and cooked until done.  Take care when stirring not to break apart meatballs.

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