Meatballs was a peasant dish created using all the offcuts of meat the Italians could find, normally pork and beef, adding bread to make it go further and rolling it into its classic meatball shape, when they immigrated to America, meatballs went with and this is where the Americans added spaghetti, which the Italians then adopted too, eaten like this all over the world now.
I made it with polenta today also a corn meal based peasant dish which is now seen in all restaurants enhanced with tons of butter and Parmesan, I make mine very plain and light, only adding a little olive oil and seasoning.
Italian food always seems to bring back memories and makes me thoughtful of events passed, this particular occasion I used my basil out the garden and remembered Sergio Pavan's beautiful garden of fresh vegetables and herbs, freshly picked for lunch on a daily basis.
These recipes are dairy free and wheat free, paleo friendly without the polenta, it is enhanced with tons of grated Parmesan cheese on top.
500g pork mince (or use beef)
1/4 onion grated
1/2 carrot grated
1 garlic clove grated
1tbsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper
5ml lemon juice
15ml tomato sauce
optional: add 1 egg and 30ml breadcrumbs
Mix together, fry a small piece off and check the seasoning then roll into balls.
I fry the balls off on the outside for colour in the pan I am going to use for the sauce as it gives flavour.
Just fry the outside of the balls then remove and set aside, start the sauce below in this pan.
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 celery stalk peeled and chopped
20ml sunflower oil
1 by 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes, chop the tomatoes by hand
1/2 carrot grated (I added 2 grated baby marrow too)
1tbsp tomato paste
10ml Worcestershire sauce
5ml lemon juice
5ml balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar optional
Fry the onion, garlic and celery until softened in the oil, add the tinned tomatoes, chopped, grated vegetables, tomato paste and simmer for 40 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients to taste, then add the meatballs and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Thicken with cornflour if necessary and adjust seasoning.
You pretty much need to follow the packet instructions as there are different kinds, the one I have is grainy so it needs to cook for at least 30 - 40 minutes and I keep adding water so its hard to say how much, here is a rough guide to follow.
Bring 700ml water to the boil with 5ml salt
turn the temperature down low otherwise you will have a polenta volcano.
add about 200ml of polenta while whisking.
Place the lid on and in 5 minutes stir it and see if you need more water, it need to be a thick paste consistency but able to bubble lightly.
Allow to cook on low, stir every 5 minutes and add water as you see fit.
When it is cooked add salt, if you like butter and Parmesan but I just left it plain with a dash of olive oil. I greased a Pyrex dish with olive oil, pour the polenta in and allow to set.
Cut into squares, you can now steam it, fry it, bake it and serve it with anything really. Sometimes I cut it into blocks and treat it like gnocchi, topped with sauce.
Recipe and pictures copyright by Tamsyn Wells