Meatballs. What meat-eater doesn’t love them? A simple yet delicious dish to prepare. In this post, you’ll see how to prepare the basic Italian version of this dish in one of the easiest and most traditional ways possible. Let’s jump right into the skinny behind this delicacy because the sooner you start making these, the sooner you can start eating them…YUM!
The Origin of the Meatball
The first documented appearance of meatballs was in the fifteenth century in the Libro de Arte Coquinaria of Maestro Martino, who was chef to the camerlengo patriarch of Aquileia at that time. In this book, the author describes the proper preparation of what he refers to as “meatballs” and this is the first known recipe solely dedicated to meatballs.
Then, in 1881, Pilgrim Artusi, in his well-known Handbook of Science in Cooking and the Art of Eating Good, also includes an ode to the meatball, writing:
“Do not think that I have the pretense of teaching you how to make meatballs. This is a dish that everyone knows how to make including the jackass, who was perhaps the first to give the recipe model to humanity. I only intend to tell you how they are prepared by someone who has leftover boiled meat; If you want to make them simpler or with raw meat, you do not need to use much dressing or seasoning. Grind the meat and a slice of fat and lean ham together. Season with parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, spices, raisins, pine nuts, some spoonfuls of porridge, made with a bit of bread cooked in meat broth or milk, binding the mixture together with an egg or two, depending on the amount. Form lots of little balls the size of an egg, bread them and fry them in oil or lard.”
Meatballs are part of the cuisine in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark as well, but Italians have invented every kind of way possible to cook them up in the most exquisite and delicious ways. In this recipe, however, we will focus on the classic Italian meatball recipe, a recipe that should be easy for anyone to prepare. Here we go!
Classic Italian Meatballs (yields approx. 25 meatballs)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
250 grams of ground beef
2 pieces of sliced white bread
2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
1/2 a clove of garlic
1 Tsp. salt
1/4 Tsp. pepper
1 sprig of parsley
Breadcrumbs (as much as needed)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (as much as needed)
1) Put two pieces of sliced white bread in a bowl and pour just enough milk over them to saturate both slices. Set aside and let sit for a few minutes so the bread can soak up all the milk.
2) Add the egg, parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley into a container and blend with a hand blender.
3) Just do a couple of quick pulses with the blender until everything is ground up but not completely liquified.
4) In another mixing bowl different from the bowl with the sliced bread, add in the ground beef and the egg mixture.
5) Rip up the sliced bread into little pieces and add it into the bowl with the meat and egg mixture and begin mixing everything together by hand.
6) Add breadcrumbs into the mixture and keep adding them in and mixing everything together by hand until all the excess liquid of the mixture is soaked up. Your mixture should come out looking like this.
7) Fill up a frying pan with about a 1/4 inch of olive oil and warm it up over a medium flame.
8) While the oil is heating, begin rolling the meat mixture into little balls.
9) Place the meatballs in the frying pan and fry until they are golden brown and then remove them from the frying pan and place them on a dish lined with paper towels to absorb the excess grease. Sprinkle a couple pinches of salt over the meatballs while they’re draining on the paper towel lined plate, then serve and enjoy!
There you have it…a quick, flavorful, and easy dish sure to please the masses! Meatballs are typically served as a second course in Italy so for a truly complete meal, whip up a delicious pasta as an entree and then with your meatballs, you’ll have a second act that can’t be beat! Buon appetito!
If you enjoyed this post you should read ITALIAN WINE COOKIE RECIPE: CIAMBELLINE AL VINO
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