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Maria Lucia's Meatballs di Napoli

Tonight I made a meatball recipe from my Italian cooking lessons with Maria Lucia. She is a savvy, snappy woman and a native of Naples– "una citta molta patza" or a crazy city. I explained the American perspective on meatballs and she laughed in my face. There was much to be learned about the realities of authentic Italian meatballs. To my surprise, meatballs must never be served with spaghetti– only with potatoes, grilled vegetables, or salad. Most people assume that Italian cooking requires lengthy recipes, millions of spices, and difficult processes, but she taught me that simple is best, especially in Italian cooking. Her motto is 5 ingredients or less for most all of her creations.

Polpette di Napoli:

300 grams ground beef

crusty white bread, soaked in water for 10 minutes and squeezed dry

2 eggs

big dash of salt

finely grated parmesan - around 3/4 cup

handful of raisins

Optional additions:

a small dash of pangrattato (very fine breadcrumbs?)

a clove or so of garlic, minced

some fresh parsley and basil

Optional variation:

Wrap a small piece of fresh mozzarella inside the balls/ovals/patties, then roll them in more pangrattato to coat.

At the end... squelch together in a bowl, enjoy the smushing sounds.

Form meat into small balls, ovals (like a cylindrical shape), or tiny tiny hamburger patty shaped – depending on the taste you want. I recommend experimenting with a few different sizes. I learned that the balls will be eaten way quicker and with less attention to the amount, whereas, the ovals have to be cut into pieces and allow you to taste the flavor more clearly.

Sauté in oil in a pan 5-10 minutes. You may add a simple tomato sauce afterwards into pan.

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