Citizens, your beloved leader – the imperious and mighty TFD! – grew up in New York City and has many Italian-American friends from his childhood whom he still counts as comrades-in-arms!
As such, the opportunity to sample true Italian-American cuisine was mine for the asking – and I asked many, many times indeed.
Meatballs in red sauce remain a favorite recipe here in my secret lair, deep in the Antarctic wilderness where I continue to rouse TFD Nation to a new revolution in culinary excellence!
A meatball, of course, is ground or minced meat rolled into a small ball, sometimes along with other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, minced onion, eggs, butter, and seasoning.
Meatballs are cooked by frying, baking, steaming, or braising in sauce. There are many types of meatballs using different types of meats and spices. The term is sometimes extended to meatless versions based on vegetables or fish. The Chinese recipe “Four Joy Meatballs” (四喜丸子—Sì xǐ wánzi) is derived from Shandong cuisine, which originated in the native cooking styles of Shandong. Its history dates back to the Qin dynasty (221 BC to 207 BC). The ancient Roman cookbook Apicius included many meatball-type recipes.
Early recipes included in some of the earliest known Arabic cookbooks generally feature seasoned lamb rolled into orange-sized balls and glazed with egg yolk and sometimes saffron. This method was taken to the West and is referred to as gilding. Many regional variations exist, notable among them the unusually large kufteh Tabrizi, having an average diameter of 20 centimetres (7.9 in). Poume d’oranges is a gilded meatball dish from the Middle Ages.
In Italy, meatballs (named polpette) are generally eaten as a main course or in a soup. The main ingredients of an Italian meatball are beef and/or pork and sometimes poultry, salt, black pepper, chopped garlic, olive oil, Romano cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, and parsley, mixed and rolled by hand to a golf ball size.
In the United States, meatballs are commonly derived from European cuisine influence. Usually, they are served with spaghetti or on pizza, as in spaghetti and meatballs and meatball pizza. Despite its seemingly Italian traits, one will not find a dish called spaghetti and meatballs in Italy. Spaghetti and meatballs is actually American, it is Italian-American cuisine, assimilated from Italian immigrants coming from southern Italy in the early 19th century. Over time, the dishes in both cultures have drifted apart in similarity. In the southern United States, venison or beef is also often mixed with spices and baked into large meatballs that can be served as an entree. Another variation, called “porcupine meatballs” are basic meatballs often with rice in them.
If you had any doubt how seriously Italian-Americans take their meatballs – watch this fantastic clip from the movie “Goodfellas”:
My version of this classic recipe is based on one from Chef David Varley, and I have every confidence you will enjoy these ultimate meatballs, my Citizens! :D
Battle on – The Generalissimo