As we observed back in November, the American love of pasta and meatballs is something of a problem for the Italians. The trans-Atlantic meatball debate has been going on for decades.  Italians call them polpettine, and they think Americans are clueless about how to eat them—as this article from the Garrubbo Guide makes clear:

"You are right in thinking—Italians eat pasta. Italians eat meatballs. But they usually do not eat the pasta with meatballs. Writing in 1897, Pellegrino Artusi, author of La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene (The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well), includes three recipes for meatballs, none of which involve pasta. But the Italian immigrants who first opened restaurants in the Little Italy communities were not cooking so much for their fellow Italians as for their non-Italian clientele.

Those that do not have a close knowledge of Italian cuisine may not understand that something such as a meatball could be savored as a course on its own. And so, among the American immigrant populations, the difference persisted. Those of non-Italian descent became accustomed to having meat and starch together on the same plate, meaning— meatballs on their pasta. So some Italian restaurants abandoned the practice of serving the meat separately and began to serve together." —Donna Picciocchi

Here's my mom's recipe for meatballs. I always thought you had to cook the meatballs in the oven or in a pan on the stovetop first, but mom just simmers them in the sauce. That's the way a lot of Italian-Americans do it. Tomorrow I'll pass along mom's recipe for lasagna.

Mom’s Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup loosely packed chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dried ground oregano
  • 2 eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Mom’s Red Gravy

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well, blending all ingredients into a uniform texture. In your cupped hand, form 36 to 42 small meatballs. Drop the meatballs gently into Mom's Red Gravy. Simmer, for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring gently every 15 minutes to avoid breaking up the meatballs, until meatballs are well done. Serve with Mom's Red Gravy and pasta, on meatball sandwiches, or in other recipes.

 

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