Presented with this comment from my son-in-law, I proceeded earlier on Friday to make a fresh batch of meatballs. I've been making this recipe from the cookbook, Naples at Table, written by Arthur Schwartz, since it was published in 1998. My recipe has evolved over time to where I have adjusted certain ingredients to reflect the type of meatball I like. If you follow the recipe that Arthur wrote, you'll find the meatballs are quite soft after cooking. I prefer mine to be a bit firmer. The ingredients a minimal, but I strongly recommend that you use fresh flat leaf Italian parsley in the recipe. The recipe also calls for pecorino cheese. From Costco I purchase a large bag of cheese and keep it in my freezer with a small container in my refrigerator for regular use.
Now that I had the guys covered, for my daughter I prepared a spatchcock grilled chicken and ratatouille. Spatchcock is a method of removing the chicken's backbone with a pair of poultry shears. I used a spatchcock chicken instead of boneless chicken breasts because Whole Foods had a whole chicken on special for $1.69/lb. Cooking chicken on the bone yields juicier meat and removing the backbone means the chicken can lie flat on the grill and cook faster. I initially cooked the chicken on a sheet of foil to help the interior of the chicken cook more evenly. While chicken was cooking, I prepared the vegetables to go along with the meal. I had my husband pick those up for me at Delicious Orchards. The Orchard had just gotten in some of the first New Jersey tomatoes.
I must say, my entire meal was devoured by some hungry and grateful guests. My son-in-law had unlimited access to both meatballs and tomato sauce - my father would be proud of me. My daughter loved her chicken and ratatouille.
Polpette alla Napoletana
From Naples at Table © 1998
By Arthur Schwartz
Donna’s Notes – When I initially began making this recipe I followed it as below. However, over time my version has evolved to where I use approximately 1 cup of bread cubes to approximately 1 pound of ground beef. I also have decreased the eggs and garlic to 1. I omit the pine nuts and raisins. Instead of frying, I place the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 375° for approximately 10-15 minutes.
I suggest that you experiment with the recipe until you find the proportions that create a meatball that you like. If I remember correctly, if you follow the recipe exactly, the mixture is quite loose and soft before cooking.
Makes 12 meatballs, serving 4-6
3 cups dried crust less bread cut into 1-1/2 cubes before measuring
1-1/4 pounds ground beef (preferably 80 percent lean, not leaner)
3 eggs, beaten to mix well
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
½ cup (loosely packed) grated pecorino cheese
¼ cup (loosely packed) finely cut parsley
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup raisings
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 quart tomato sauce
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A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.