January 23, 2010

gram's meatballs & new year's greetings

happy new year! a little belated, but heartfelt. one can only hope that this year will be better than the last.

as usual with the dawning of a new year, 2010 brings with it hopes of getting in shape, eating better, becoming a supermodel...seems as though each year brings another cunning plan for the diet lifestyle change to bring a resolution to any and all weight problems in the extended cadenelli clan.

even grams gets into the act; in fact, she is probably the greatest instigator of them all! mary dignard, maternal matriarch, eternal watcher of weight(s), and all-around most awesome person ever, apparently has it all figured out, having lost about 40 pounds in the last few years. ('it's easy,' she says. of course, it took her until she was 85 for it to be 'easy,' but who am i to point that out!?)

the details of this effective eating plan are kind of murky, but seem to include consuming mostly fruit, small hunks of italian bread and salumi (ok, i really say 'cold cuts'), and chocolates, the latter eaten rather clandestinely.

since she has 'retired' from any actual cooking, her menu definitely does not include meatballs, unless made by others. this is too bad, because her meatballs have been scientifically proven to be the greatest on earth.

my mother's meatballs are a very close second. mine are pretty good, but never seem to quite measure up. i guess that's just the way it is! but in any case, regardless of the generation making them, the recipe remains about the same. measurements are iffy, since italian meatball-makers would never actually measure anything, but here's the rough idea:

gram's meatballs
breadcrumbs [we always use progresso italian, i must confess, but originally fresh italian bread], handful
parmesan cheese [preferably parmigiano-reggiano] or romano cheese, extraordinarily large handful
eggs, 1 or 2
parsley [preferably italian flat-leaf, definitely fresh], 1/4 bunch or so
salt [i'm in love with maldon] and pepper [freshly ground]

ground meat [all beef, all turkey, or mix of both, or traditional mix of beef/veal/pork], 1 pound

mix all ingredients except meat together in large bowl. add ground beef and combine lightly. this method tends to be easier than adding all the ingredients at once and then mixing, but really, whatever floats your boat.

in my opinion, the secret ingredient of these meatballs is the cheese, as is evidenced by the amount listed. to check seasoning, though, i always cook a little tester meatball patty to taste, as i'm not a big fan of tasting raw ground meat. i tend to go heavier on the cheese and lighter on the breadcrumbs, but each time is slightly different. the texture should be pretty moist. if necessary, you can add a little water, milk, cream, or another egg if the mixture is too stiff. it's a very subjective process :).

when you are happy with the taste and texture, roll into balls of any size you'd like from marble to golf ball. i like to fry them in olive oil and keep them plain. of course, they can also be baked, or dropped into soup or tomato sauce.

always make more than you think you need, because they tend to cause immediate auto-eating. strangely enough, i love them cold the next day. as does da gorge.

over christmas vacation, my lovely and talented mother made an egg yolk-free and gluten-free version, using rice bread cubes soaked in chicken stock and egg whites for binding.

there was still a large amount of cheese involved.

here's to a great 2010!


Elizabeth Gallo said...

M better not see this, or I'll have to make them immediately!!! oxox

Happy Holidays said...

the grocery store near the retirement community near my home has finally started to carry what my family referred to as "meatloaf mix" (aka beef/veal/pork) - the recipe is similar for meatloaf without the tedium of balling - i suspect that is the irish/german approach to it all

tara. said...

hey ms. leddy! thanks for reading this!

i have thought about making the meatball recipe into a meatloaf...hmmm....may have to give that a go.

t. xo.

Anonymous said...

I make mine the exact same way as you do except I add many cloves of minced garlic.

I bake them on parchment in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes then I add them to Hunt's tomato sauce from a can (I know, I know) which has been simmering with some fresh garlic and basil. Add a couple Italian sausages into the sauce and simmer for 4-6 hours and you will have the most amazing Italian Gravy you will ever taste in your life!

tara. said...

yum! i love sauce with sausages cooked in it, so that sounds delicious! have you ever done it with pork chops or braciole? also amazing!

i've used Hunt's many a time! i might aspire to hand-picked-organic-farm-to-table-home-canned-heirloom tomatoes, but, well, reality is a different story :).

thanks for writing!

Gail Boucher said...

Well my Nona(Gig) used to fry onions and salt pork and fry the meatballs in that. She put some of the onions and salt pork in the sauce itself. They were the best. Something about our grandmothers cooking was so much better than ours. Each had their specialty. Aunt Phil made the best pizza! Gig made this awesome cookie that I finally got the recipe. I guess I should put this on the family.

Post a Comment