From “Heirloom Kitchen” Brodo di Mamma e Polpette

Gina’s Brodo di Mamma e Polpette – Andrew Scrivani

Brodo di Mamma e Polpette (Meatballs with tomato sauce)

Adapted from“Heirloom Kitchen,” by Anna Francese Gass

For the Sauce (Brodo di Mamma)

10 fresh basil leaves

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly mashed

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (optional)

8 cups (two 32 oz. cans) crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs (Polpette)

½ pound ground pork

½ pound ground veal

½ pound ground chuck beef (85 percent lean)

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese

1 cup bread crumbs, preferably seasoned Italian (Gina uses Progresso)

½ cup whole milk

½ cup Brodo di Mamma (sauce) cooled

“Heirloom Kitchen: Heritage Recipes and Family Stories From the Tables of Immigrant Women” was released on April 23.

1. Make the sauce. Tear 5 basil leaves in half, reserve the rest. Combine the torn basil, olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper, if using, in a small pan and heat over very low heat, allowing the basil and garlic to “steep” in the olive oil for 10 to 15 minutes. The oil will become fragrant and rich with flavor — be careful to not let the garlic burn or go beyond a medium brown color. Remove from the heat, strain the aromatics and set the oil aside.

2. Combine the crushed tomatoes and 2 cups of water in a large pot. Add the tomato paste, salt and pepper. Pour in the infused oil and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Remove ½ cup of the brodo for the meatballs, setting aside to cool.

3. Partially cover the pot and simmer for one hour.

4. Make the meatballs. In a large bowl, hand mix all of the meatball ingredients. (This prevents overmixing.) The mixture will be very soft, but resist the urge to add more breadcrumbs; you’re making tender, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs. Once all of the ingredients are combined, wet your hands and pinch off a golf-ball sized piece of the mixture (about ¼ cup) and roll it into a ball. Place each meatball on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining mixture, making approximately 16 to 18 meatballs.

5. Carefully drop the meatballs into the sauce. If the pot seems too full, shimmy the pot back and forth to make more room. (Do not stir with a spoon — you’ll break the meatballs!)

6. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 45 minutes or up to 2 hours. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes. Carefully remove the meatballs to a plate. Chop the remaining basil and sprinkle on top of the sauce. Serve with the pasta of your choice.

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