The juicy meatball is a versatile recipe, with many ingredients that can be added and substituted. We list our variations below. This is an excellent way to use old bread, and leftover milk or wine.
When we were young children, we called our grandmother a “meatball cannon”. During Sunday lunch when all the cousins were gathered, after the first servings (never in small portions, of course) she would go around the children’s table with a huge bowl of meatballs, asking who would like to have seconds. If you lowered your head and avoided eye contact, she would give you 2 or 3. If you made the mistake of making eye contact… she would raise her eyebrows and with a nod of her head, shot 5-7 meatballs with her spatula (and the quickest hand movement) onto your dish. Needless to say, the meatballs were heavenly, but still…! She made all kinds of meatballs, pan-fried like these ones, and others which were deep-fried, with or without sauces… those recipes for next time!
5-10 minutes of preparation 10-15 minutes of cooking
This recipe was prepared for a dinner of 3 persons.
Extra virgin olive oil
300g of old bread
Enough milk to soak bread
500g minced pork, preferably fatty
150g minced pancetta (optional). We minced leftover pancetta in a food processor.
300g mix of grated cheese: pecorino romano and parmigiano reggiano
2-3 cloves of grated garlic
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 whole large egg
500g bread crumbs
Remove the crusts of the old bread. In a bowl, soak the soft inner part with milk until soft. A soft white bread will take half a minute to soften, and sourdough bread about 5 minutes.We used sourdough.
In a large metal bowl, use your hands to combine into a mixture:
bread white (squeeze excessive milk with your hands before adding)
salt. Be careful that the pancetta is already salty.
Have a feel of how your mixture sticks together. If the mixture feels very firm on its own, skip this step. Otherwise, crack an egg and combine it into the mixture with your hands. If you feel the mixture is too “runny” and breaks apart easily, add another egg.
On medium-high flame, heat a generous amount of oil in your pan.
As the oil is heating up, fill a tray with bread crumbs. Either with your hands, or with spoons, shape a handful of meatball mixture into a ¾” (2cm)-thick, 1½” (3-4cm)-wide disk, and cover it with bread crumbs on all sides. Add your disks to the pan of heated oil.
Allow each side to cook until golden for 4-5 minutes. Cut a piece to check if the meat has cooked thoroughly (without any pinkness).
Remove from the pan, allow to cool slightly, and serve. We ate this with a very simple side dish of sliced potatoes baked with roughly chopped onions and tomatoes, capers and olives. It baked in the oven while we were making the meatballs.
Cage-free eggs (Farmer Brown, New Zealand Free Range Eggs) – Cold Storage
Our typical variations for this recipe:
Meat: Any other fatty meat, really. Beef, mutton, you name it.
Milk to soak bread: Red wine. This is an excellent way to use that extra bit of wine from last night’s dinner. My wife prefers red wine to milk in the meatballs.
Cheese: Pick a grated cheese of your choice.
Remember that any additional ingredient should be added before the egg. The egg should be the last thing you add to the mix, as it determines the consistency of your mixture. My grandmother, for one, never had the need to add any egg to her mixture and she made the juiciest meatballs.
Flavours: Chopped spring onions. My wife loves the extra kick of flavour.
“Stracotto di Manzo” means “extra cooked”, or “overcooked” beef. This delicious recipe from Tuscany requires a long time of cooking, but the preparation is simple and easy. It takes only 15-20 minutes to prepare in the morning, after which you can leave it to simmer for 6-8 hours the rest of the day.
It’s made with a piece of fatty beef which is usually used in English cuisine for roast beef. It must be a fatty piece of meat because the fat will melt slowly to give flavour to the final dish. We accompanied ours with homemade mashed potatoes.
Watch the video to see how we prepared the meat, and for all the important tips on this cooking technique.
15-20 minutes of preparation, 5-8 hours of simmering.
This recipe was prepared for a dinner of 4 persons.
1 kg of fatty beef
4 carrots, chopped into big chunks
1 onion, chopped into big chunks
5-6 garlic cloves
1 table spoon of coarse salt
1 table spoon of whole black peppers
1 bottle of red wine
1L of water or beef broth
extra virgin olive oil
I. Season the meat
Grind coarse salt and whole black peppers in a small food processor. You may also use ready-made ground black pepper but freshly ground whole black peppers are more fragrant.
Generously coat all surfaces of your meat with the seasoning.
II. Seal the meat
On a medium-high flame, add a generous amount of olive oil to cover the base of your pot. Wait for the olive oil to become hot.
Starting from the fattiest part of the beef, cook each side of the meat for 2 minutes. After sealing, pick up the meat and set aside.
III. Deglaze the pot
Add the carrots and onions into the pot for 2-3 minutes, and add a splash of water. The water and juices exuded from the vegetables will deglaze the beef fat at the bottom of the pot.
IV. Boil and simmer
Add the garlic and rosemary, and put back the beef.
Raise the flame to the highest, and add red wine. Use good red wine!
Add water (or beef broth) up to half of the beef height. Wait for the water to boil.
When the water starts boiling, lower the flame to its lowest, cover the pot completely and allow to simmer for 5-8 hours.
V. Prepare the sauce
After 5-8 hours, use a strainer to remove the beef from the pot. Do this gently and carefully as the beef will be very soft and tender, and may fall apart.
With a spoon, skim excessive fats on the surface of the sauce and discard them. You may also skim after blending the sauce in the next step.
With an immersion mixer / hand blender, blend the remaining vegetables in the sauce. Thicken the sauce by raising the flame and allow some water to evaporate before serving.
10 mins of preparation, 4-5 hours of slow cooking.
4kg pork lard
1 glass of water
3-4 bay leaves
Cut pork lard into small pieces.
On the lowest flame, place pork lard into a pot with 1 glass of water (to prevent burning) and heat until golden brown and crispy. The pieces will exude the fats while becoming crispy. This will take a few hours of slow cooking. Ideally, you should use a pot with a broad base so that the lard is more well distributed.
Use a strainer to pick up the golden crisps and move them to a container. Use immediately (on its own or to add flavours to other dishes) or store in a container in the fridge after they cool.
Strain the oil (or “liquefied fats”) into jars and leave to cool for several hours or overnight. Store jars in the fridge after they cool.
Where we bought our ingredients in Singapore:
Pork lard – Tiong Bahru Market
A few dishes for which we have used the pork lard:
Pork and sultana pie (with homemade filo dough), using both the crisps and the lard;