Ricotta and Beef Meatballs with white wine

Oh Spring, Where Art Thou?

The cool and wet Sydney weather, and a massive case of jet lag, inspired me to make this dish for lunch today.

It is very simple to make, so even the foggiest, travel-stricken mind can successfully attempt to work this straight-forward combination of ingredients out.

It is also delicious to eat, preferably on the couch, snuggled up under a furry blanket, close to you favourite person.

First off, place 3 slices of stale bread, crust removed, in a food processor along with 80 gr of parmesan cheese in chunks, a handful of parsley, leaves and stalks. Blitz until combined, then pour mix onto a large metal bowl and add 150 gr of full-fat ricotta (life’s too short for low-fat anything, really), 400 gr of beef mince, 1 egg, salt and pepper. Amalgamate using your hands until all the ingredients are nicely mixed together.

Cover the bowl with cling wrap and rest in the fridge for half an hour.

Shape your meatballs the size of large walnuts using wet hands, dust them with a little flour.

Make a soffritto with  1 chopped up onion, 1 small,diced carrot and two cloves of garlic ( simply bash them with the back of your hand and leave the skin on) and pan fry with two tablespoons of EVOO for a few minutes, until fragrant. Add the meatballs and brown them gently in the soffritto. Deglaze the pan with half a glass of dry white wine and allow for the alcohol to evaporate, then add two ladlefuls of vegetable stock and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Place your cooked meatballs on a serving dish, liquidize the cooking liquid and vegetables in a blender and pour over the meatballs.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and lemon zest.

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Polpette della Nonna (the very humble meatballs)

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How many of you recall that famous scene from Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp”,when, as they fall in love by the suave notes of “Bella notte” being played on the mandolin, the dogs share a strand of spaghetto and Tramp nudges the last meatball over to Lady, as his promise of love and devotion? Everytime I cook spaghetti with meatballs I can’t stop myself from feeling utterly romantic, even if the dish itself is the most humble and unpretentious and even though Richard would rather set his own hair on fire than hand over the last meatball….Many and varied are the recipes for polpette. Pretty much every Mamma and Nonna in Italy will tell you they hold the best one, and so I have to go with my Mamma’s and Nonna’s and pay tribute to their moist mixture of mince and other loveliness.

Ingredients for 4 people

2 slices of stale bread, crust removed, cut into chunks

1 cup of milk

1 lb (450 gr) of premium beef mince

1 egg

1 handful of chopped up parsley leaves

1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg

1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese

2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of ground white pepper

1 brown onion, chopped up

1 garlic clove bashed with the back of a knife

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup of red wine

2 tins of tomatoes

1 cup of water

salt to taste

spaghetti  or crusty bread to serve

How to

1. Soak the bread in milk for about 10 minutes.

2. In a bowl, mix together the  beef mince with 1  egg, salt and pepper, chopped parsley, the tip of a s teaspoon of grated nutmeg and  grated Parmigiano (or Grana Padano) . Use a spoon if you feel squeamish about touching raw meat, but in my opinion hands are your best kitchen tools.

3. Squeeze the milk out of the bread ,add to the meat mix and amalgamate.

4. Using the palms of your hand, roll the polpette the size of small manadarins and set aside in the fridge to firm up for 15 minutes.

5. In the meantime, pan fry the chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is soft and translucent.

6. Add your meatballs and brown them on both sides, then add 1/2 cup of red wine. Let the alcohol evaporate, then add 1 bay leaf, two tins of tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer with the lid on for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust with salt and pepper.
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Serve with crusty bread or mix through spaghetti, cooked to a perfect al dente!
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