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Abruzzo Polpettine

02/10/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Food and Drink

On this rainy Saturday in Northern California, I'm going to make some "comfort" food, Maccheroni alla Chitarra con Polpettine, though actually I'm making more of a Ragù. Comparing this with spaghetti and meatballs from your local pizzeria would be just wrong. &#59;) I've been wanting to make this type of ragù since I read Gianugo Rabellino's use of ragù in lasagna.

Maccheroni alla Chitarra is a slightly thick egg pasta, made by using a rolling pin to pass the sheet of pasta through a Chitarra - basically a wood frame strung like a guitar. The pasta is made just of flour and eggs, or, if necessary, you can use fresh, store-bought [COTS] :) linguine. I don't do anything different here, so I'll let you find your own recipe for this.

My meatballs are a bit different than even what my Grandfather would make, and Abruzzo Polpettine are smaller than those which with you may be familiar - some say about the size of the fingernail on your little finger, others go a bit larger and say the first joint of your little finger. I make them about half-way between those two gauges.

Let me start with the pesto controversy. What is a true pesto? From Giuliano Bugialli's Classic Techniques of Italian Cooking, classic pesto includes olive oil, walnuts, pignoli, basil, spinach, garlic, Parmigiana/Romano/Sardo and even pancetta. He has a full explanation of pesto in The Fine Art of Italian Cooking. For the good, old fashioned Genovese pesto, described with passion, see "The Sunday Post, al pesto" by Gianugo Rabellino.

I use a pesto in my meatballs, one of parsley (one bunch, leaves only), walnuts (12, shelled and toasted), garlic (3 cloves peeled), olive oil (1-1/2 cups), sea salt, cracked rainbow peppercorns, and Parmigiana (8 ounces).

I also make my own breadcrumbs. I keep a bread collection of various crusty peasant breads and baguettes. Grab one of these, and slice it about 1/8-inch thick, until you have a cup or so of bits. Since they're stale, they'll crumble somewhat. :p

To make the meatballs (polpettine):

  1. soak the breadcrumbs in cream - just enough to wet them
  2. stir in 3 tablespoons of pesto
  3. one whole egg per pound of meat plus an egg
  4. mix in 3/4 pound very good quality ground beef [I like Creekstone Natural from Piazza, if you're nearby]
  5. and then 1/2 pound each of ground pork and veal
  6. one-quarter of a medium red onion, diced and sautéed
  7. grate nutmeg and ground in salt and pepper to taste [though please don't taste raw eggs or pork

Mix the above really well, roll in your hands to form balls about 3/16-inch in diameter, and brown in olive oil, bacon fat or grease from browning diced pancetta.

At your butcher, get 1 veal shank per person, and have it split in half [as for osso bucco]. Brown and set aside. Sear each piece of veal on all sides, and set aside.

I use a cast-iron, flat bottomed pan with high curved sides that make it look like a bowl - soft of like a Mediterranean wok to do all this sautéing and browning. To make the ragù, I leave the veal and polpettine in this pan, deglaze the pan with red wine, such as Montepulcianto D'Abruzzo, cover the meat with marinara, and bake in the oven for an hour or two. The marrow from the veal shank adds incredible richness to the sauce. Before serving, remove the oven, remove the meat and set in serving dishes, add a half-glass of heavy cream, and bring the sauce back to a boil on the stove top, toss in the just barely under-cooked pasta and cook another two minutes until the pasta is al dente, remove from the heat and stir in some ripped apart basil leaves.

Serve a salad, then the pasta covered with the ragù and meatballs, then the veal with a side dish of green beans sautéed with calamati olives & soffritto [find for soffritto in this post for a good explanation of aromatic vegetables stewed in oil and used for flavoring other dishes].

Enjoy.

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1 comment

stefano ulissi

Mi viene l’acqua in bocca…

Casale in Abruzzo

12/22/07 @ 18:48
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I'm Joseph A. di Paolantonio and this blog has two main foci: my interest in food, and my interest in the future. This provides a look into my personal life, and is separate from my consulting work…though there will be overlap. I am an independent researcher, working as a strategic consultant and I'm an executive with over 20 years of commercial experience with a technical interest in the intersection of Internet of Things, with advanced data management and analysis methods. I view data science as a team activity, and I feel that the IoT must be viewed as a system. I am leveraging my past activities to understand the adoption and impact of the IoT; first, as a system engineer in aerospace, where I developed Bayesian risk assessment methods for systems within the Space Transportation System (including the Space Shuttle), Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, Gravity Probe B, and many more, and second, as a enterprise data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics professional. Between my aerospace and IT careers, I indulged my hobby of cooking by starting a food company, Montara Magic, centered around my chocolate sauces. My education combined chemistry, mathematics and philosophy. I performed research into molten salt fuel cells in graduate school, and in photovoltaic materials for a short time in industry. The lure of bringing the human race into space was strong, and when I was offered the chance to combine my chemistry and mathematics skills to develop new risk assessment and system engineering methods for space launch and propulsion systems – I couldn't resist. I perform independent research and strategic consulting to bring value from the Internet of Things, Sensor Analytics Ecosystems and data science teams.I am a caregiver, a lover of science fiction and speculative fantasy, and my passion to learn has led me to a pilot's license, an assistant instructor in SCUBA, nordic and alpine skiing, sea kayaking, and reading everything I can, in as many topics as I can.

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