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ITALIAN meatballs


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Hi, I made meatballs in tomato sauce and was then told I should make "Italian" meatballs... What defines an Italian meatball and should they be in gravy, or what?  Getting meat from Italy is out of the question.

Edited by Susanwusan (log)
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I think the answer to your question depends on who asked it … 

 

Someone from your country (where do you live) ? Someone who saw an early Jamie Oliver show ? An Italian nonna (from Sicily / Tuscany / Sardinia / …) ? Someone who grew up with XXXX-italian roots and their respective food culture ? The expectation and thus the “meatball request” might be very different.

 

Can you help to understand the background of the question ?

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25 minutes ago, Susanwusan said:

I know about all the variations, I wondered if there might be a specific point or points that would be common to all?


I think not, unfortunately. If you want to go “generic”, use milk-soaked stale bread, a mixture of fatty pork & beef, egg, grated hard cheese and some herb component (parsley, basil) plus a healthy dose of garlic …

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I don’t know what defines Italian meatballs but I can buy them easily from almost any Canadian supermarket. They are not made by Italians I don’t think. They’re not made in Italy. They are  not made from Italian meat. But they taste Italian. :smile:

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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3 hours ago, Duvel said:


...plus a healthy dose of garlic …

I was watching something and the Italian chefs were nonplussed as to why others thought lots of garlic went into Italian food.  According to them, it was used rarely and then most often with a light touch.

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1 hour ago, Susanwusan said:

I was watching something and the Italian chefs were nonplussed as to why others thought lots of garlic went into Italian food.  According to them, it was used rarely and then most often with a light touch.

My general understanding. The heavy garlic and oregano I think of a Italian-American - but I'm in the U.S.  Never ate a meatball in Italy or even Corsica which is Genoa influenced.

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16 minutes ago, Susanwusan said:

And what about the sauce, should it be tomatoey or gravy?  And is there a typical carbohydrate and vegetable accompaniment?

Here.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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2 hours ago, Susanwusan said:

And what about the sauce, should it be tomatoey or gravy?  And is there a typical carbohydrate and vegetable accompaniment?


Again, this depends on what you want …

 

If you strive for authenticity, you can have Italian meatballs in white sauce, baked in the oven, deep fried, in broth   (btw: all with garlic 😉) and yes - also served in myriads of different tomato sauces. 

 

As for accompaniments: they are usully secondi (the meat course) and thus served with contorni (side dishes, e.g. cooked vegetables and such, NB: potato is considered in this group, too). Carbohydrates (other than bread and starchy veggies) are served before.

 

Edited by Duvel (log)
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47 minutes ago, Duvel said:

Again, this depends on what you want …

Exactly. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Re sauce vs gravy. Parts of Philadelphia and NYC call a red tomato sauce/marinara "gravy".

 

Why? God only knows.

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1 hour ago, gfweb said:

Re sauce vs gravy. Parts of Philadelphia and NYC call a red tomato sauce/marinara "gravy".

 

Why? God only knows.

That was my understanding of Italian gravy. 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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16 minutes ago, Hermann Morr said:

https://www.giallozafferano.com/recipes/meatballs-with-sauce.html

 

Giallo Zafferano is an italian cooking site and they provide a translation.

Notice the tomato sauce in the recipe is not thickened, no butter, sugar or anything, so i would not call it a gravy.

 

 

There are many recipes in Italy and they don't all call for tomato sauce. :) 

 

P.S. I don't really like Giallo Zafferano. I never use it at all. But they have some recipes too.  

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7 hours ago, ambra said:

 

 

There are many recipes in Italy and they don't all call for tomato sauce. :) 

 

P.S. I don't really like Giallo Zafferano. I never use it at all. But they have some recipes too.  

Well, the starting question was about sauce and i posted a recipe with sauce.

 

Of course in the north you'll find meatballs made with leftover bollito, breaded, fried and served with salad.

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9 hours ago, Hermann Morr said:

https://www.giallozafferano.com/recipes/meatballs-with-sauce.html

 

Giallo Zafferano is an italian cooking site and they provide a translation.

Notice the tomato sauce in the recipe is not thickened, no butter, sugar or anything, so i would not call it a gravy.

I always thought the sauce/gravy distinction was in whether you cooked some meat in the sauce or not.  Tomato sauce you boiled sausages or meatballs or bracciole in was gravy and fresh tomato sauce was sauce... But maybe that is a distinction I made up for myself.  

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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51 minutes ago, cdh said:

I always thought the sauce/gravy distinction was in whether you cooked some meat in the sauce or not.  Tomato sauce you boiled sausages or meatballs or bracciole in was gravy and fresh tomato sauce was sauce... But maybe that is a distinction I made up for myself.  

 

Sensible distinction.  I'm not sure I've heard it before though.

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Time for @Francito weigh in. At some point she described the basics for Sunday Gravy, or Sugo di Carne. My understanding is that it is long simmered meats (varieties of pork and beef and bones) in a tomato based, red wine braising liquid to create a thickened sauce (aka gravy) for pasta. I always thought the meats were picked out and eaten separately after the pasta course.

 

The op suggested the topic was meatballs. I rarely make meatballs these days, but my Italian meatballs usually included a mix of ground beef and veal and pork, bread crumbs softened in water or milk, a little hard cheese, a little beaten egg, garlic, herbs like parsley and thyme and some coarsely chopped toasted pine nuts; that's from memory. I make them small, brown them in a little olive oil, then add them for a final few minutes to finish cooking in a marinara sauce, not a meat sauce. I have no doubt there are a zillion ways to make  and cook Italian meatballs and a zillion ways when and how to add them to sauce. My mother, never much of a cook, used to simmer them to death in sauce. That makes a nice tough meatball. 

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