Earlier last year I had the opportunity to do some recipe testing for Paola from one of my favorite blogs-Italy On My Mind. I had success with both of the recipes I tested and looked forward to the publication of her book. I was enamored with the lemon ricotta gelato and the ease of putting together this eggless ice cream. The other recipe that I tried is known as cassone verde-a flat bread filled with greens and and fried in a skillet. The recipes were well written, easy to follow and accompanied by gorgeous photos.
I was immediately taken with the premise of the book-recipes from Italy’s bars and hidden laneways. If you’ve been to Italy, you know what I’m talking about when I say that you are assaulted (in a wonderful way) with an amazing array of food “to go” at every turn. I only wish that I had been along with Paola as she traveled around the country eating and collecting recipes for her book.
I am a bit fan of meatballs having grown up with an Italian grandmother who made a pot of “gravy” with sausage, meatballs and braciole every Sunday. Over the years it’s been hard to find a meatball that can measure up to hers, but I’m always hopeful. When I saw this appetizer of fried meatballs, I knew that I had to give them a shot. The other reason I was drawn to them is that the recipe comes from a restaurant in Venice that had been recommended to me, but I never it made to-La Vedova near the Ca’ D’Oro vaporetto stop. Anyway, these are the perfect snack to serve with cocktails. They are crunchy with a hint of garlic and parmesan-you’ll love them! Oh-and be sure to get the cookbook too.
Polpettine di Bar
1 medium potato
1 oz. crustless bread
1/2 cup milk
9 oz. ground beef
2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1-1/4 oz. grated parmesan
Peanut or sunflower oil for shallow frying
Plain all-purpose flour
1 egg lightly beaten with a splash of milk
Homemade, fresh breadcrumbs if possible (or use plain unseasoned crumbs)
Place the whole potato in a saucepan of cold water, cover and bring to a boil. Cook until tender. Drain, peel and mash or put through a ricer. Set aside to cool.
Soak the bread in the milk for 5 minutes, then drain and squeeze the bread to remove the excess liquid. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add the potato and the remaining ingredients, except the oil, to the large bowl. Combine the ingredients with a large wooden spoon or your hands until the mixture comes together.
Roll the mixture into small balls, about 20.
To crumb the meatballs, fill three separate bowls with the flour, the egg mixture and the breadcrumbs. Dredge the meatballs one at a time in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a plate.
Heat about 1/2″ oil in a large , heavy saucepan over medium heat. Fry the meatballs in batches for about 3 minutes, turning until they are evenly cooked and deep brown.
Drain on paper towels and serve warm, scattered with extra sea salt flakes.