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Neapolitan Meatballs with Raisins and Pine Nuts - Polpettine Con Passi e Pinoli

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Several people have written in reply to the question about raisins in polpette.
Roger says, "My mother always made meat balls with raisins and pignolia nuts. As I remember they were delicious. No one that I asked ever heard of such a thing. Both my parents were from the beautiful hill town of Montemiletto, Avellino, Campania." Rosalie says...
And here is a Neapolitan recipe for meatballs with raisins and pine nuts, served in a quick tomato sauce.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 pounds (600 g) ground beef
  • 1/2 pound (225 g) day old bread Italian bread with a firm crumb
  • A bunch of parsley
  • An egg
  • 1/4 pound (110 g) Parmigiano, freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • A walnut sized chunk of unsalted butter
  • A garlic clove, minced, if you like it
  • 1/4 pound (110 g) raisins and pine nuts
  • 1 1/8 pounds (500 g) blanched, peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • A piece of an onion, minced
  • Olive oil for frying

Preparation:

To begin with, some background. Several people replied to the question about raisins in polpette I posted on the site blog:

Roger says, "My mother always made meat balls with raisins and pignolia nuts. As I remember they were delicious. No one that I asked ever heard of such a thing. Both my parents were from the beautiful hill town of Montemiletto, Avellino, Campania."

Rosalie says, "My mother was born about 1905. They used raisins (or preferably currants) and pignolas in beef braciola, meatballs, and a special unseasoned bread crumb/egg/cheese stuffing for chicken.
"We were Catholic but the main influence of my mother's cooking (aside from the native foods, lack of refrigeration or cattle and milk in Southern Italy) appears to follow Spanish Sephardic cooking: chicken and potatoes with garlic, olive oil, oregano and lemon, simple artichokes boiled and then baked with olive oil & garlic, frittatas, etc."


Anette says, "I wanted to write about today's article about raisins in meatballs. My parents both great Sicilian cooks put raisins in braciole and also pine nuts. But not in meatballs. I still do it the same way and the more raisins the better."

And finally, Sylvia puts raisins in her meatballs too, adding, "Not everyone likes them, so like my grandmother used to do, I put a tooth pick in the ones that have the raisins and pine nuts."

Having said all this, here's a Neapolitan recipe for polpette with raisins and pine nuts. The ingredients listed above will serve 6:

Soak the bread in abundant water for 10 minutes. Remove it, squeeze it dry, and combine it with the meat and the parsley. Put the mixture through a meat grinder (or blend it, using quick bursts to keep it from becoming a paste) and gather it in a bowl. Add the egg, grated cheese, salt and pepper, butter, and garlic, and mix well, then add the raisins and pine nuts and mix again. Using your hands, make meatballs that are about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter; fry them a few at a time in the oil, removing them when they are golden, draining them well, and keeping them hot.

While you're frying the meatballs, cook up a quick sauce with the tomatoes, onion, and olive oil. Heat the meatballs though in the sauce for a few minutes and serve.
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