Polpette in Agrodolce

In 1949, the butchers' union in the place where I came from, held a contest to make ground beef more popular, and one clever person came up with the slogan ´Wednesday, meatball day´. Marketing people, who weren't called marketing people yet because that profession also didn't exist as such, received the slogan with great enthusiasm. And it turned out to be a winner and a permanent one even though we no longer eat meatballs on Wednesdays.

Why is Wednesday ground beef day, you might ask. But back in the day when we didn't have fridges and freezers, every bit of food had to be consumed immediately. The butchers usually received new animals on Monday from the slaughterhouse, which were butchered the same day with the best cuts are made available on Tuesday. On Wednesday, traditionally, the rest of the animal was ground up into minced meat and that had to be sold immediately too. 

In Italy meatballs are called ´polpette´ and are generally made in the same way as our meatballs, only a bit smaller. Sometimes a region can give it a nice twist, the recipe below comes from Piedmonte and is called 'Doss e Brusch' locally, meatballs in sweet and sour sauce, or as they say in Italy 'Polpette in agracolce'.

About this post

  • Ingredients:
    • 3/4 pound of ground veal
    • 1/4 pound pork sausages
    • bread crumbs made from a slice of stale bread soaked in milk
    • 4 amaretto cookies soaked in milk
    • a handful of raisins soaked in warm water
    • a tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese
    • one egg
    • 1/4 cup of flour
    • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
    • 1/2 cup of butter (or less)
    • 2 tablespoons of Demerara sugar
    • 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
    • Salt and pepper
  • Recipe steps:
    1. Chop the raisins, remove the skin from the sausages, crumble the amaretto cookies and put everything in a bowl together with the ground meat and the soaked bread. 
    2. Add the egg, the Parmesan cheese and pepper and salt to taste and mix together well.
    3. The Italians form the meatballs as big as small tangerines and then give them a push with the flat of their hand to flatten them a bit. Personally, I like round balls better, but make them as you like. Roll them first through the flour and then through the breadcrumbs.
    4. Put the butter in a dutch oven and let it just get brown, don´t burn it.
    5. Put the meatballs in the hot butter a few at the time and brown them on all sides. 
    6. In the meantime dissolve two tablespoons of Demerara sugar in a little warm water, add two tablespoons of white wine vinegar and pour the liquid over the meatballs.
    7. Continue to cook until the meat is done, about 10 minutes.

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