The cheaper cuts of beef that the Romans use to make stock (il lesso) are often eaten either sliced up and accompanied by a ‘salsa verde’ or else reheated with onion and tomatoes for a dish called ‘picchiapò’ (https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/picchiapo-pronounced-peek-ya-poh/) . A third option is to mince up the meat and turn it into meatballs, which are breaded and quickly shallow fried (https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/loving-the-leftovers-kale-fritters-and-stock-boiled-meatballs-riclico-di-cavolacci-fritti-e-polpette-dal-brodo/). They really do taste so much better than they sound, I promise you! and that is in part, I conclude. because of the contrast between the crispy outer coating and the soft interior of the meat patty.
I had an ‘aha!’ moment the other day and thought to myself … ‘Why, I wonder whether we could make ordinary meatballs (i.e. polpette) taste like that too?’. Such is the low scale of my adventurous mind these days that it was with some trepidation that I broached the experiment. After all, the ‘normal’ Italian meatballs take pride in being as soft as a pillow … was it worth incurring the wrath of the Polpette Police ?
See for yourselves …
Dunk the meatball in egg wash (beaten egg) and then coat it with breadcrumbs a first time. The egg wash you see above had bits of choped parsely in it, it was just an added ‘thing’, you don’t have to follow suit. And then … repeat the process. Dunk the polpetta a second time … And slather it in breadcrumbs a second time. Set aside. Shallow fry the polpette and low and behold … the two layers of breadcrumbs come into their own. I used olive oil for this procedure. While I was cooking the polpette I was also frying some courgette slices in plain flour-and-water batter as a little antipasto. I had cooked the capsicum the day before in the oven. I had made some confit tomatoes the day before (together with the capsicum). And here are the pert and crispy polpette resting inside a wreath of oven cooked tomatoes. A good sprinkling of salt … always (and make sure it’s air dried salt, not nasty chemically dried table salt).
And Bob’s your uncle ! They were really good, I mean really good (they all got gobbled up, that’s always an indicative sign).
I had some prosciutto languishing in the fridge. I felt sorry for it. So I turned it into polpette too. The texture was naturally completely different from the above, but it proved a viable experiment … and one in keeping with my ‘Loving the Leftovers’ lark.
Chopped up prosciutto … Breadcrumbs, egg and salt …
That’s it. Polpette can save the day … and always taste good !