Sunday, April 26, 2009

Taste & Create: Alessandra's Meatballs

My partner for this month's Taste & Create was Susan of Life at Quail Hollow. Taste & Create is a monthly food blog event hosted by my friend Nicole of For the Love of Food. Participants are randomly paired off and asked to prepare a recipe from their partner's blog. It is very fun, and I encourage each and every one of you to sign up!

So Life at Quail Hollow certainly seems idyllic, and Susan seems to always be hosting gatherings of friends and family in her lovely home. I enjoyed perusing her blog, and it didn't take me long to decide on Polpettine d'Oliva, AKA Alessandra's Meatballs. I am a sucker for an "authentic" recipe for anything, and after reading that Alessandra's kitchen is IN Italy, Tuscany to be exact, and that Susan learned to prepare this meal AT Alessandra's house in Tuscany, I was hooked.

I will admit that cooking the meat prior to forming the meatballs seemed counter intuitive to me, but I did it. I even doubled the recipe from the start because they just sound so delicious.

Although the recipe calls for green olives, I decided to use a mix of Paesana stuffed olives we had in the refrigerator, and just chopped them up. We simply had to have a taste before chilling the meat mixture, and it is amazing! We were thinking of other dishes we could use this meat mixture in, and trying not to eat the whole pan with a spoon. We were greatly anticipating the meatballs.

After the meat was chilled, we pulled it out of the fridge and were dismayed to find it difficult to form into balls. We debated adding a couple more eggs, but first we simply stirred up the meat. Some of the binding egg mixture had settled at the bottom, so to our relief just mixing the meat again corrected the problem, no added ingredients necessary.

Number One formed the meatballs (more than 80 of them!) and I dipped the ones we ate tonight in flour, egg and bread crumbs. Just regular bread crumbs, of course, because the store doesn't carry panko. You're not surprised, are you? I wasn't. We fried them in olive oil until golden brown, then served them up an a bed of spinach with some of the dipping sauce as described below.

The rest of the meatballs went onto a cookie sheet and into the freezer. When they are individually frozen, I will put them in a ziploc bag to store them for future use.

These are the best meatballs we have ever had. I'm so glad we have about 80 of them in the freezer!!

Alessandra's Meatballs

2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup carrots, chopped
3/4 cups celery, chopped
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound bulk sausage
1 1/4 pound ground beef
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup green olives, chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
Panko bread crumbs

Saute the vegetables in the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the meats and cook until done, stirring to break the meat into small pieces. Drain, if needed.

Return to the skillet and add the wine. Cook until the wine is absorbed.

Remove the mixture from the heat and add the Parmesan, 1egg, olives and the seasonings. Mix well and chill.

Once chilled, form into 1-inch balls. At this point the meatballs can be chilled or frozen.

Roll the meatballs in flour, egg and bread crumbs and fry in olive oil until brown. Serve with mayonnaise seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, basil and oregano. Makes 40 meatballs.


KC said...

I was surprised to read the meat was cooked first but it is a good idea since you wouldn't have to worry about undercooked meatballs. Looks great. I've got your recipe bookmarked.

Min said...

I was skeptical about cooking the meat first too, but it worked. We loved these. Let me know what you think!

Susan said...

I had never cooked the meat first, but that is the way Alessandra makes these delicious meatballs. You are right, they can be a pain to shape because the meat has been cooked, but they are worth the effort. I always make extra and eat some and freeze the rest for later. I'm glad you enjoyed the meatballs. I'll send Alessandra a link to your blog.

Min said...

Yes, it is definitely worth it! I just packaged up 63 meatballs for later consumption! Cooking the meat first does make it easier to get them golden brown and not worry about undercooking, like KC mentioned.

And yes! How fun if Alessandra herself came to visit the blog! Thanks, Susan!

Susan said...

I am sending Alessandra the link. Hopefully she will stop by!

Zia Ale! said...

Eh Eh Eh!!
Guess who's here...
I am glad that you liked the meatballs so much, however there are a couple of hints on making the balls more easily.

One, use butter. The reasons why you put the balls in the fridge are mainly two. The mix resting blends the flavor AND the butter coagulates so it is definitely easier to form the balls.

Two. You have missed a step.
After you have added the wine, you have to drain the meat from allthe left juices, by squeezing it into a sift or even by hand if you so like, then you add a couple of tbsp of bread crumbs -we don't even know what Panko is- to the pan, heat it up and let the crumbs absorb all the juices, and flavor. When this is cold you mix it to the meat mix.

Then an explanation.
Normally in Italy we don't cook meat before making the balls, this is an elaboration of an older recipe -that someone say that has its origin with the Etruscan, 3000 years ago!-
Check the web for recipes of Olive all'ascolana.

Lastly...this is one of my favorite recipes, I do it all the time, let's keep it our secret...

Min said...

Alessandra! Thanks so much for stopping by! A couple questions: how much butter, and when to add it? Should we use butter instead of olive oil?

I love these meatballs so much. Thank you for your help!

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