Easily my second home for a while was London and it’s infamous Venetian restaurant, Polpo. Specialising in meatballs and little pizzas it’s no wonder I made the fiance go back with me again and again. The poor thing really shouldn’t have been surprised when we just happen to get off at Convent Garden tube station yesterday and we just happen to walk down a particular street and just happen to see what Polpo was open for lunch. My sneaky sneaky behaviour wins the race, again.
Inspired by yes, but very adapted. Here are my meatballs. Cooked differently to Polpo who boil theirs. Mine are baked, trialled and tested for Nonna worthy praises until the cows come home. Don’t get too overwhelmed by the ingredient list, just go through it slowly and take your time 🙂
Spaghetti con Polpette (Baked Meatballs)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
1L pasatta – tomato puree
500ml chicken stock
1tbs dried chilli flakes
Handful of basil leaves
Salt and pepper
250g beef mince
250g pork mince
2 slices stale white bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup milk
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped oregano
1 cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper
Heat a little olive oil in a medium sized pot and gently sauté the onion, garlic and fresh chilli for 5 minutes. Add the basil and chilli flakes and heat for a 1 minute before pouring in the passata and chicken stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to a very low heat and simmer for 40 minutes stirring every now and then.
In the meantime, start your meatballs by heating olive oil in a nonstick pan and frying the onion and garlic for 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool. In another bowl, pour the milk over the stale bread leaving the it to soak and soften. Using your hands squish the bread together draining out some of the milk and add it to the onion mixture along with the remaining ingredients. Note – add more salt and pepper than you normally would.
Thoroughly combine the mixture then roll into golf ball sized meatballs. Heat more olive oil and fry in the same nonstick pan on a very high heat browning the balls on all sides. Do this in batches so you don’t over crowd the pan. This process isn’t to cook the meatballs, rather sear them so they don’t need long on the heat. Leave aside.
Preheat your oven to 180.
Now… your sauce should have developed in flavour by now so using a handheld blender, puree the sauce until smooth then transfer to a deep oven proof dish. Plop your meatballs over the sauce, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle with extra parmesan before baking for a further 5 minutes.
Serve with lots of spaghetti, red wine and soak up the praises.