Emperor Polpettine

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Sorry. I couldn’t get around the title. When my kids came home from school yesterday, and asked their customary question what’s for dinner, and I answered polpettine, they looked at each other wide-eyed, and almost simultaneously and smirkingly asked if we were having Emperor Palpatine for dinner. And thus began a long string of corny, nay ridiculous jokes that ended with more than one groan from the maternal kitchen gallery.

Where were we? Oh, right. Polpettine, as in, tiny meatballs. I saw Mario Batalli make these on Food Network about 8 or so years ago. They’ve been my go-to recipe for meatballs ever since. I prefer them small — a giant single meatball sitting atop a pile of pasta and sauce has never been very appealing to me. They are also the perfect recipe to double (or triple) and make large quantities at once — I mean, once your hands are dirtied up with raw beef and pork, you might as well sit there a while and do the work for more than one dinner. I make them up, lay them out on a lined baking sheet, and stick them in the freezer. Once frozen solid, I transfer them to ziplock bags, ready to dispense as many as I need to make a quick(ish) dinner.

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These are classic Italian meatballs — I typically use a combination of beef & pork, but have used veal as well when I’ve had it. Very simply seasoned — primarily garlic — and tossed in a homemade marinara (my favorite recipe is below). Historically served atop a pile of pasta, these days I’m opting for strings of spaghetti squash (for obvious reasons) and am surprisingly enjoying the change.

So try them, and see if they don’t find a place in your dinner rotation (with or without a side of jokes about the ruler of the Galactic Empire).

 

Recipe: Polpettine (tiny meatballs)

: inspired by this recipe from Mario Batali
makes about 60 1 1/2″ meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef (grassfed if possible)
  • 1 pound ground pork or veal
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup blanched almond flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 3 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 quarts marinara sauce (recipe below)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork (or veal), eggs, garlic, flour, parmesan, and salt & pepper. Using your hands, mix quickly and thoroughly to combine and distribute seasoning.
  2. Roll into balls 1″ – 1 1/2″ in diameter, according to preference. (At this point, meatballs can be place in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and frozen for future use. Transfer to a freezer zip bag once frozen. When ready to use, thaw completely before proceeding with recipe.)
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil or rendered pork fat over medium heat until shimmering. Add meatballs in a single layer. Cook without disturbing for about 3 minutes, or until browned on the bottom. Gently turn meatballs, continuing to cook, until brown on all sides.
  4. Pour marinara sauce over meatballs, and allow to simmer gently for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Number of servings (yield): 6

 

Recipe: Marinara Sauce

: makes 2 quarts sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 (28-oz) cans diced or crushed tomatoes
  • dried bay leaf
  • sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large saute pan or dutch oven set over medium heat, saute onions, celery, and carrot until soft — about 5-8 minutes (do not brown). Add garlic, and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  2. Add tomatoes and bay leaf to pan, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer gently for 45 minutes (don’t rush this!).
  4. Using a hand-held stick blender, puree the sauce in the pot. Alternatively transfer to a blender or food processor and puree.
  5. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

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I’m totally not supposed to be eating these.

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See how fun this will be? My blog will become a confessional booth, wherein I ask you to absolve all of my lapses. Perhaps my penance will involve re-scribing, by hand, the sidebar notes from Nourishing Traditions.

All in all, relatively, yesterday’s backslide was not a bad one. I am supposed to be avoiding starches — any and all starchy fruits and vegetables — and these somewhat-greenish plantains were definitely still starchy. But I only ate four five of them. Cross my heart, hope to die.

Confessions aside, I don’t know how I’ve not posted about plantains before. They were my side-dish-of-choice at our favorite Cuban/SoAmerican/BeautifullyBizarro restaurant in Athens. Plantains are a firmer, starchier relative of the banana, and unlike their cousin “dessert bananas,” are usually eaten cooked. I prefer them very ripe (almost totally black skin), quartered and fried in butter and coconut oil, served as maduros, as a side to black bean dishes. But the fresh plantains I picked up on Monday were not fully ripe yesterday, and greener plantains are better suited to double-frying, served as tostones.

(By the way, it seems that preferring my plantains sweet is a very American, gauche thing in the eyes of the plantain purist. Oh well, having already revealed my true nature, this is the least of my worries.)

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Turns out, even with double-frying, tostones are pretty easy (though pent-up frustration is helpful during the smashing step, and a candy thermometer is handy as well). They are just the thing to take a plain Central- or South-American inspired meal (a.k.a., in my house, Brazilian Black Beans) from ho-hum to interesting. Or, as my 8-year old likes to say, fancy.

Or even better still, diet-breaking.

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Recipe: Tostones (fried green plantains)

(adapted from this recipe at 3 Guys From Miami)

serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

  • 2 plantains, a bit “green” (mine were yellow and brown, and still quite firm)
  • 1/2 cup (or more) refined coconut oil
  • sea salt

Instructions

  1. Trim the ends of the plantains, and score skin lengthwise with a knife in 3-4 places. Peel off sections of skin — this is more difficult the greener the fruit.
  2. Chop plantains crosswise into 1-inch chunks.
  3. In a cast-iron skillet or dutch oven, add an inch of coconut oil and heat to 300º on a candy thermometer (this is quite hot, but not smoking). Add chunks in a single layer, and cook for 2 minutes without stirring.
  4. Flip chunks (they can stick a bit) and cook another 2 minutes (do not allow them to brown). Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  5. Place each chunk on a flat end. Cover with a small piece of parchment or wax paper, and using the end of a glass. smash each piece so that it’s about 1/2″ thick.
  6. Increase heat of oil to about 375º. Add flattened pieces to hot oil, frying for about a minute on each side, or until golden brown. Remove to a fresh paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Salt immediately & generously (this is best done when plantains are still damp from the cooking oil).
  8. Serve immediately, these do not keep well.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.

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