One day, back when my husband David and I were still dating, he phoned me from his car. "Where are you off to?" I asked. "I'm on my way to my grandmother's house for dinner" he said. Really? Some kind of mid week family gathering I supposed. But no, it was just him going to his Nonna's for dinner by himself. Wow, I thought. On that basis he probably isn't a serial killer.
Eventually I was invited to the tradional Sunday Lunch at Nonna's. Nonna and I bonded fast and pretty soon she was sharing her recipes with me. Nothing was written down or measured and to learn them, I needed to "come over love and I just show you..".
Having lost all both my grandmothers at a very young age, gaining not only a lovely non serial killer husband, but a truely excellent grandmother to boot, was something I considered fabulous luck!
I have the feeling that we would have become friends no matter what the circumstances or the age difference. She was a feisty and fiercely independant woman. Ahead of her time in many ways, spending most of her life working alongside her husband in their business, being a devoted mother her children and managing her home.
Her Sunday family lunches have taken on a legendary quality with the hand made pasta and too much food.
Nonna passed away 2 years ago on this day, at the age of 84. Her memory still lives on with all who love her and I use her rolling pin regularly.
In honor of her life and her food I have decided to share one of her personal recipes.
NONNA'S POLPETTE (meatballs)
We used to have these like an appetizer rather than with sauce and pasta as you tradionally think of italian meatballs....
Also please keep in mind that quantities are very very approximate... alter to your own preferences. As long as the mixure can form a shape, they'll still be great.
300 gm beef mince
A cup or so of chopped parsley
2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
Grated parmesan cheese
Soak bread in water and then squeeze out all excess water until you are left with a very sticky lump of dough.
Combine with mince ensuring that bread makes up slightly more than 50% of the mixture.
Combine the parsley, garlic, eggs with the meat/bread mixture and about 1 or 2 handfulls of parmesan depending on taste.
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
If mixure seems too wet to form, add some dry bread crumbs.
Form into croquette shape and toss in parmesan cheese to coat thinly.
Fry in 2 inches of hot canola or other flavourless oil on both sides for a couple of minutes until golden. drain on paper towel
Serve either warm or at room temperature.
*This is a great way to make use of those few slices of stale bread at the end of a pack. Just accumulate them in a zip lock bag in the freezer for whenever you want to make polpette or blitz in the food processor for really good bread crumbs!