What are polpette you ask? They’re basically a croquette – a fried meatball, wherein the meat is mixed with mashed potatoes, bread crumbs, and a bunch of seasonings and/or cheese. Oftentimes, they are stuffed with cheese, so that when you bit into it warm, it oozes out of the center. In a word, they are delicious.
Polpette are the authentic, Italian version of the bastardized Italian-American meatball. The ‘meatball’ as we know it here in the U.S., is the result of Italian immigrants making use of the abundance of meat that was readily available in every butcher shop or grocery when they moved from the homeland to New York/Brooklyn, etc.. If anyone enjoys food documentaries or cooking shows as much as I do, I highly recommend “Food on the Go.” It’s a documentary that is currently available on Netflix and is all about the evolution of Italian food into American-Italian food as we know it today! It was really informative and made me hungry for pasta, calamari, and meatballs.
Polpette, since they are prepared like a croquette, can be comprised of a variety of ingredients – anything from fish, veal, mortadella, or even squid. What really distinguished this ball, is the fact that it combines mashed potatoes with the protein and is fried. They originated in ancient Roman times, and today they are served as appetizers, snacks or bar food all over Italy, however, they are especially popular in Venice where you might take them as cicchetti, with a glass of afternoon wine. My favorite activity in Venice is probably sampling the variety of cicchetti each bar has to offer while drinking far too much red wine… and it’s so cheap compared to the U.S…. you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank.
To make the best possible polpette or meatballs, you should hypothetically use a combination of ground beef, ground pork, and/or veal. I don’t support the veal industry because it’s totally fucked up, and I also don’t like buying ground pork anymore because it’s impossible to find organic and ethical pig meat (unless it comes from a super small farming operation, industrial pig farms are not OK). I used turkey instead (I’m sure it was still abused, but at least it claimed itself to be cage-free, hormone free, antibiotic free, etc…). It’s pretty tasty and stays moist when combined with the milk-soaked bread crumbs and eggs.
- 2 Idaho potatoes (these will be peeled, cut, boiled, and mashed)
- 1-1.5 lbs. meat of your choice (turkey, or any combination of beef, pork, or veal if you’re a real sadist)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 slices of white bread, or baguette, or any white-ish bread you have
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
- 2 Tbs. freshly chopped parsley
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
- Salt (add to desired taste)
- Pepper (add to desired taste)
- Granulated garlic ( ” ” )
- Dried Basil ( ” ” )
- Onion Powder ( ” ” )
- Dried oregano ( ” ” )
- Olive oil or canola oil for frying
- Use the potatoes to make mashed potatoes (peel, cut into large chunks, and boil in salted water until penetrable with the tines of a fork… usually 15-20 min)
- You can go ahead and season the potatoes as you normally would with mashed potatoes – a generous cube of butter, salt, granulated garlic and pepper
- Set potatoes aside in a large bowl – the bowl needs to be big enough for the meat to be mixed in, along with all of the other seasonings.
- While the potatoes cool, chop up the parsley, which you will be adding into the mix.
- Chop up the mozzarella into small cubes and set aside – you will use this to stuff the polpette when the time comes:
- Next, in a separate bowl, crumble/rip up the two pieces of white bread and pour the milk over them – there should be enough liquid that it is all absorbed and all the crumbs are saturated
- Now it’s time to combine all of the ingredients – add the meat, eggs, seasonings, milk-soaked bread crumbs, grated cheese, and fresh parsley to the big bowl holding the mashed potatoes
- Set aside 1 cup of bread crumbs – you will roll the balls in this reserve before frying
- Add 1 cup of the breadcrumbs to the mixture and dig in! You have to use your hands – it’s impossible to do it right with a spoon. Make sure everything is thoroughly mixed – especially the eggs and breadcrumbs.
- Heat up the oil in a large sauce pan/frying pan over low-medium heat – you should use enough oil that bottom of the pan is covered.
- Now for the really fun part – making the ballz! Grab a small handful of the meat mixture and form it into a thick patty on your palm
- Before rolling the patty into a ball, place a cube of mozzarella in the center.
- Form the meat around the cheese center, and roll into a ball
- Roll the polpette in a light layer of breadcrumbs before placing in the frying pan
- You can make all of the balls and set on a plate so that they’re ready to go at the same time into the frying pan, although it is unlikely that they will all fit at the same time, so you’ll probably have to do two or three batches.
- Heat the over to 350 degrees and get a large baking sheet or casserole dish ready to place the fried balls in (I finish them in the oven to ensure they’re thoroughly cooked and not overly browned)
- Fry the polpette over low-medium heat in the saucepan, turning with a spoon or fork to ensure all sides are evenly browned.
- As they are browned on each side, remove from saucepan and place on baking sheet/casserole dish
- The polpette will only need about 15 minutes in the oven before they’re fully cooked through and ready to serve! These are great to re-heat the next day as well (or the next or the next… they can also be frozen)!
What a week it’s been… I can’t wait to be home-home (aka my parent’s house) for some quality R&R. Work was insane this week, and the cold made it impossible to get any walking done. I will miss my cat immensely while I’m gone – I’m riding home dirty on the Greyhound bus instead of the train, so he unfortunately has to stay here all weekend (they only allow pets on MetroNorth and NJTransit). He loves being at my parent’s house 😦 … poor thing 😦
I am also looking forward to my hair appointment tomorrow to get some red low-lights added in. My hair has been going white, probably from stress. I’m not old enough for white hair yet… fuck that shit. I’ll just enhance my natural color and tell the hairdresser to concentrate the color near the front of my face where the whites are coming in hot and heavy.