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Meatballs with Grana Padano Cheese - Polpette di Carne al Grana Padano

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Spaghetti with meatballs are comparatively rare in Italy (I've had them once, in Puglia, but have never encountered them elsewhere), but this doean't mean that meatballs are uncommon. Quite the contrary, they're a popular second course dish and an ideal way of dealing with the boiled meat left over from making broth. Here they gain grace from cheese, and should serve about 6.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (450 g) beef, either raw or boiled (you can also use other meats)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups grated Grana Padana or Parmigiano Reggiano (about 120 g)
  • A handful of day-old Tuscan bread, stripped of crust, steeped in milk for 5 minutes, and squeezed dry.
  • A healthy pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • A small bunch parsley, minced
  • Olive oil
  • A lightly beaten egg
  • Bread crumbs
  • Oil or unsweetened butter

Preparation:

Begin by grinding the meat, then combine it with the eggs, cheese, bread, parsley, salt, pepper, and work in enough olive oil to make the mixture soft. Shape the mixture into meatballs the size of an egg, roll them in the beaten egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs, and sauté them in olive oil or butter, turning often, until they're nicely browned on the outside and done on the inside (the exact cooking time will depend upon the meat you're using).

Note: If you're using cooked meat (e.g. leftover boiled or roasted beef) use a little more bread dipped in milk and a little less grated cheese. As another variation, once you have browned the meatballs, pour about 3/4 cup (180 ml) of milk over them, and simmer them until the milk has thickened and reduced to form a sauce. In terms of a wine, I'd go with a light red, for example a Bardolino.

Yield: 6 servings cheesy Italian meatballs.

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