WHAT ARE TRADITIONAL ITALIAN MEATBALLS MADE OF?

The art of the meatball, or as Italians say it, polpette, is much more than just getting your hands dirty in the kitchen, like a hamburger. Italian Meatballs are the perfect combination of flavours, amazingly cooked meat with a rich and flavoursome sauce that will take your breath away. Like many foods, Italian meatballs were adopted and changed by many cultures to suit consumer preferences. 

When non-Italians think of Italian meatballs, “spaghetti and meatballs” comes to mind the most. But, believe it or not, Italians do not eat spaghetti with their meatballs. Instead, the meatballs are cooked in a delicious and authentic sauce. And the best Italian restaurants typically serve them as the main or second course.

What makes Italian meatballs so good?

When it comes to Italian meatballs, there are two main components: The quality of the ingredients and preparation techniques. This means using fresh ingredients like beef (or pork or veal), seasoning properly with salt and pepper, adding herbs like parsley or basil, then mixing by hand until well combined. The second component is the cooking technique. Creating a great Italian meatball sauce requires at least one hour of simmering on low heat. This allows all those flavours to come together into one delicious dish! It’s important not to rush this process because that will result in a watery sauce, and the flavour would be less intense.

If you’re feeling creative, you may also make meatballs without the sauce, maybe add some spinach and ricotta to the mix, breadcrumb, then fry them—but we’ll need another blog for that!

Let us share with you the most beautiful, authentic Italian meatball recipe sure to transport you to Nonna’s Kitchen, or better yet, La Bella Italia. The secret is effortless really, keep it simple and add lots of love. 

But, if you want to treat yourself, head to our Italian Restaurants in Sydney and Brisbane, Italian Street Kitchen will show you how it’s done!

Ingredients 

Le polpette 

-300 g of beef

-300 g of pork

-3 x slices of bread 

– 1 cup of milk

-100 g breadcrumbs

-grated parmesan cheese 

-salt

-pepper

-parsley

-2 x eggs (lightly beaten)

-2 tsp minced garlic

Il sugo 

-2 tins of tomato passata 

-1 x brown onion (finely chopped)

-1 x carrot (finely chopped)

-3 x celery ribs (finely chopped)

– 2 tsp olive oil 

– 5 x fresh basil leaves

Preparation 

Before we cook, grab a bowl and soak the bread slices in milk for approximately 10 minutes.

Instructions

While letting the bread slices soak, we can start with the sauce, so it has a bit of extra time to simmer in all those fresh and beautiful ingredients. The sauce is an essential part of this recipe; its flavour dictates the overall outcome of our traditional Italian meatballs.

  1. Grab a large saucepan and place it over a medium heat
  2. Place the finely chopped celery, carrot and onion in the saucepan with two teaspoons of olive oil
  3. Once the onion becomes transparent, add two tins of tomato passata (tomato puree) and your fresh basil leaves
  4. Add salt and pepper to your liking
  5. Bring sauce to a boil, and then bring the heat down to low. Place a lid on the saucepan and allow to simmer for 30 minutes

Let’s get Started…

Tip: Using olive oil or water on your hands before shaping the meatballs helps make a smoother finished meatball and helps minimise meat wastage!
  1. Once the milk has soaked the bread long enough, strain it thoroughly
  2. Place milk in a bowl with the minced meat, eggs, grated parmesan, finely chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
  3. Mix this all together with your hands until you have a consistent mixture.
  4. Roll the meatballs with the palm of your hands with about 3 tbsp of meat mixture (it is good to try and keep a consistent size to ensure each meatball cooks the same). Repeat this step until all the meat is used up.
  5. Heat the pan with two teaspoons of oil, then lightly coat the meatballs with breadcrumbs
  6. Add the meatballs one by one, turning them around several times until they are evenly browned on all sides.
  7. Add the sauce to the pan over low heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes (covered). Then raise to medium heat, leaving the lid slightly uncovered, and cook an additional 20 minutes until the sauce thickens and the meatballs are cooked through.
  8. Serve and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Oh, don’t forget some Italian bread to soak up the juicy, delicious sauce. Enjoy!

Regardless of what type of protein is used in the original version, it’s important to note that all Italian meatballs contain bread crumbs. This gives them a nice texture while cooking and provides extra flavour to balance out the other ingredients.

Italian meatballs are a classic dish that has been around for centuries, which means that the ways of preparing the dish have not changed much. If you want to make traditional Italian meatballs like Nonna used to, follow this recipe, or search online Italian restaurant near me where you can find us at Italian Street Kitchen for a whole other experience.

Buon Appetito!

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