I was lucky enough this past weekend to visit my hometown of Leominster, Massachusetts to enjoy some Birthday celebrations with old friends and enjoy some family at the same time.
I would also like to preface this particular segment, with the fact that I am the only Frenchman (and a few other things) in the midst of beautiful Italian women that have been my friends for a lifetime. I realized while we sat at the initial celebratory dinner for our good friend Debbie Depasquale, that I should take advantage of the Italian cooking knowledge deep within this group and gather all the tips from their Nona’s and Moms pretty quickly since we all just celebrated our 50th.
My brother in law will be here this weekend to show me the sauce for these meatballs, another true Italian (Tocci being the last name). So we will have a full Italian meal before this holiday is over.
Had an incredible weekend at my friend Lisa Cuddahy’s house, that’s her married name….don’t fret she is a true Italian (DiGeronimo being her maiden name). I spent a great Saturday with Lisa and Maryellen Daigneault (also a true Italian, Mother was a Ciccollini) , they taught me how to make a proper meatball. There is apparently a set of rules that apply to every journey into meatball world:
- Ensure you are instructed by a real Italian
- Use basic ingredients (none of the fancy stuff)
- Know how the meat should “feel” before you start rolling
- Speaking of rolling, that’s a specific technique as well NO CRACKS!
- The whole adage of not overworking the meat, is apparently bull*&^* according to these ladies!
- Oh yes and a couple bottles of wine didn’t hurt this experience one bit.
Now, in my culinary defense I made a pretty awesome garlic spread to place on some local Italian bread. But I do contribute these incredible meatballs go to the DiGeronimo family, who I’m still waiting to adopt me for Sunday Dinner and meatball/pasta night at the beach by the way. Also, I am still on the lookout for some real authentic Italian bread ATLANTA!
- 1-1.25 lb ground beef 93% fat content
- 2 eggs
- 4 tbs fresh chopped parsley
- 2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup Romano cheese
- 1/8 cup plus 2 tbs Good Olive Oil
- One cup Dried bread crumbs (Lisa makes her own, but store bought is okay. She says if you buy store bought, run them through a food processor to ensure a better, finer texture)
- one small onion diced
- one sprig of fresh rosemary
- one clove garlic
Mix together the meat, 2 tbs olive oil, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper (mix well at this point, remember the Italian’s do not believe that you can overwork the meat….so mix away). Now add the bread crumbs and mix again. If one pound feels too wet, add more breadcrumbs 1/4 cup at a time. From my time with the girls, your fingers should come right off the meat without sticking.
Now ROLL, flatten in the palm of your hand and then roll a tight ball. Don’t make them too big……NO CRACKS. Now for the BEST hint ever. After you do the below process of heating the oil, test one meatball, if it stays together, you have done it!!! Now add the rest….don’t overcrowd the pan.
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a heavy stock pot, add onions, garlic and rosemary sprig, heat until the oil is hot, add meatballs and sear on all sides. Then add 2 cans of Contadina Tomato Puree, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 3 hours.