Italian Meatballs

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Meatballs are a typical Italian dish, usually based on meat, vegetables or fish, spices and aromas mixed in egg yolks, flour and breadcrumbs and served at the table as a second course or as an appetizer.

Traditional Italian meatballs are separate main courses that are never served with pasta. In fact pasta is considered a first course and the pairing of pasta with meatballs is actually an american invention.

The definition of a meatball is crushed or ground meat that is shaped into a ball. In Italian meatballs are called “polpette” and are typically made from beef or veal and contain ingredients such as garlic, eggs, parsley and in some cases cheese such as Parmisan.

Although most people associate meatballs with meat (hence the name meatballs) they can be made from other ingredients including fish or potatoes. In Italy these tasty concoctions are called “crocchette” instead of “polpette”. Both polpette and crochette are traditionally fried or cooked in the oven.

It’s unclear who invented the first meatball, although many people believe that the meatball first originated in Persia where leftover meat was used to make a dish known as Kofta.

Some claim that Venetian traders brought the meatball to Europe through trade routes while others believe the Ancient Romans developed a similar recipe and deserve full recognition for the meatballs humble origin!

Today, the meatball exists all over the world and is made from a variety of meat depending largely on what is readily available.

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • ⅓ cup plain bread crumbs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray
  2. Soak bread crumbs in milk in a small bowl for 20 minutes
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onions in hot oil until translucent, about 20 minutes
  4. Mix beef and pork together in a large bowl. Stir onions, bread crumb mixture, eggs, parsley, garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, Italian herb seasoning, and Parmesan cheese into meat mixture with a rubber spatula until combined. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour.
  5. Preheat an oven to 220 °C
  6. Using wet hands, form meat mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Arrange onto prepared baking sheet
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes

Enjoy!

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