From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is another simple entree for 2 or 3 people. The recipe can, of course, be doubled or tripled if necessary. The meatballs are easy to make but for a robust flavor that speaks of Tuscany, they should be refrigerated for at least an hour before they are sauteed. The food of Tuscany is really quite simple and it relies heavily on the olive oil of the region, a unique salt-free bread called pane Toscano and white beans that are cooked in a clay pot that's called a fiasco. I've had fiascoes in my kitchen but they weren't clay pots. Tradition plays an important role in all aspects of Tuscan life and extends to food that they eat. The Tuscans are a frugal lot. Nancy Jenkins, the author of Flavors of Tuscany, calls them "the Yankees of Italy" because they are as plainspoken, forthright and as penny pinching as any New Englander she has met. Polpettine were originally made from leftover meat that was finely chopped and mixed with stale bread to extend them to feed all who assembled at the family table. The lemon sauce that's served with them, while scant, is lovely. Here's the recipe to feed those who assemble at your table.
Polpettine - Tuscan Meatballs...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
3/4 pound 85% lean ground beef
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
Flour (about 1/4 cup)
4 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 large lemon
Salt and pepper
1) Mix beef with cheese, egg, parsley, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2) Shape into meatballs. Lightly roll in flour.
3) Cook slowly, turning often, until golden brown.
4) Raise heat. Add lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. Yield 18 to 24 meatballs.
Cook's note: While this can be served with pasta, that is not a traditional accompaniment in Tuscany. I serve this with white beans and rosemary or roasted new potatoes. I also like to serve a great bread with this to mop up the lemon sauce.
Recipe adapted from My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts Francini