Emperor Polpettine

November 9, 2011 · 12 comments

polpettine-1

Sorry. I couldn’t get around the title. When my kids came home from school yesterday, and asked their customary question what’s for dinner, and I answered polpettine, they looked at each other wide-eyed, and almost simultaneously and smirkingly asked if we were having Emperor Palpatine for dinner. And thus began a long string of corny, nay ridiculous jokes that ended with more than one groan from the maternal kitchen gallery.

Where were we? Oh, right. Polpettine, as in, tiny meatballs. I saw Mario Batalli make these on Food Network about 8 or so years ago. They’ve been my go-to recipe for meatballs ever since. I prefer them small — a giant single meatball sitting atop a pile of pasta and sauce has never been very appealing to me. They are also the perfect recipe to double (or triple) and make large quantities at once — I mean, once your hands are dirtied up with raw beef and pork, you might as well sit there a while and do the work for more than one dinner. I make them up, lay them out on a lined baking sheet, and stick them in the freezer. Once frozen solid, I transfer them to ziplock bags, ready to dispense as many as I need to make a quick(ish) dinner.

polpettine-2

These are classic Italian meatballs — I typically use a combination of beef & pork, but have used veal as well when I’ve had it. Very simply seasoned — primarily garlic — and tossed in a homemade marinara (my favorite recipe is below). Historically served atop a pile of pasta, these days I’m opting for strings of spaghetti squash (for obvious reasons) and am surprisingly enjoying the change.

So try them, and see if they don’t find a place in your dinner rotation (with or without a side of jokes about the ruler of the Galactic Empire).

 

Recipe: Polpettine (tiny meatballs)

: inspired by this recipe from Mario Batali
makes about 60 1 1/2″ meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (grassfed if possible)
  • 1 pound ground pork or veal
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup blanched almond flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 3 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 quarts marinara sauce (recipe below)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork (or veal), eggs, garlic, flour, parmesan, and salt & pepper. Using your hands, mix quickly and thoroughly to combine and distribute seasoning.
  2. Roll into balls 1″ – 1 1/2″ in diameter, according to preference. (At this point, meatballs can be place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and frozen for future use. Transfer to a freezer zip bag once frozen. When ready to use, thaw completely before proceeding with recipe.)
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil or rendered pork fat over medium heat until shimmering. Add meatballs in a single layer. Cook without disturbing for about 3 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Gently turn meatballs, continuing to cook, until brown on all sides.
  4. Pour marinara sauce over meatballs, and allow to simmer gently for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Number of servings (yield): 6

 

Recipe: Marinara Sauce

: makes 2 quarts sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 (28-oz) cans diced or crushed tomatoes
  • dried bay leaf
  • sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large saute pan or dutch oven set over medium heat, saute onions, celery, and carrot until soft — about 5-8 minutes (do not brown). Add garlic, and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  2. Add tomatoes and bay leaf to pan, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer gently for 45 minutes (don’t rush this!).
  4. Using a hand-held stick blender, puree the sauce in the pot. Alternatively transfer to a blender or food processor and puree.
  5. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

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{ 12 comments }

Liz Wiley November 9, 2011 at 7:32 pm

So happy about these recipes, Katy. This has been my favorite meal since I was little. I’ve always preferred smaller meatballs as well. I’m looking forward to freezing a bunch of batches of these. Thanks.

Marcy November 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Mmmm, meatballs.

I’ve never precooked them, though. I loooooove the smooth texture they get from cooking IN the marinara, at a slow simmer for a few hours.

katy November 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Wow, Marcy, I didn’t even know you could do that ; )
So, you just put raw meatballs into the sauce and let it simmer? I will try that with my next batch!

Marcy November 9, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Yup! Wait a few seconds after plopping each one in, so they don’t get stuck to each other, and stir very very very carefully.

Jennifer Cole November 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Yummy :)

Nancy November 10, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Hey Katie, today I have no humor to include. It’s Thursday and the husband gets to eat out in a fancy restaurant tonight courtesy of ole Uncle Stan whilst the kids and I will be muddling through at home. But, I do have a question – I have two kids who cannot eat eggs, and I love meatballs. Yet, I feel kind of stumped in figuring out something egg-like to keep them together. Any suggestions? I will admit that I have not googled it. I will also admit, I really appreciate the Star Wars allusion.

katy November 10, 2011 at 3:08 pm

So I vaguely remembered using flax seeds as a binding agent from back when I cooked egg-free for the boy. I found these instructions that would likely work for binding meatloaf and meatballs:

For each egg to be replaced, blend in a blender/food processor 1 tablespoon flax seed with 3 tablespoons water until the mixture is thick and creamy.

I’m so familiar with the husband getting to eat at fancy restaurants — even all over the US — sans little ol’ momma me. Maybe we can do group therapy sometime? Via skype?

katy November 10, 2011 at 3:08 pm

maybe an old coffee grinder would work for the flax too — grind the seeds first, then whisk them into the water in a separate bowl.

Nancy November 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Thanks for the suggestion. I have a blender and a food processor, but a coffee grinder sounds like the easiest one to use. :) And I’m all about the easy way.

You should watch this video: http://yhoo.it/rxAqqT
This guy cracks me up!

Nancy November 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm

OH, I’m all about the support group. At least I had already planned on making some easy soup for tonight. Otherwise, we’d all hang outside the restaurant window all Dickens’ style.

Dad November 11, 2011 at 9:23 am

Gonnie made her meatballs about the same size as this. Until I was grown, I never knew spaghetti was served with large meatballs or browned ground beef. I like to add a little mild sausage to meatballs these days. Do you remember ever eating spaghetti at Gonnies?

punkinmama November 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Almond flour! Now why didn’t I think of that?!
I will hopefully actually try these out! I’ve missed meatballs recently.

I couldn’t agree more about the single meatball thing. I like the idea of tiny ones!

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