I know one thing is for sure…..I will be searching for Neapolitan Meatballs our next trip to Naples, Italy. Along with pizza and spaghetti with tomato sauce, meatballs have to be most internationally famous, even infamous specialty of Naples. So excited for you to learn more………
After returning from Naples Italy, I was hooked on their food and immediately ordered this this book, which was recommended to us more than once while visiting family in Italy. Trust me, I am not a big meat eater, but my husband on the other hand is. So a couple times a week, I experiment with different recipes, including this one I am about to share with all of you.
If you love Italian food, and you love traditional spaghetti and meatballs, you will think this recipe ROCKS! Again, I repeat, I rarely eat meat, and I am no expert, but I get rave reviews from everyone who has tried my meatballs. They are so good…..the BEST MEATBALLS EVER! I have made these over and over, several different ways, and each time, they turn out amazing. I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to share this recipe, or to be honest, to start up this blog! I have been cooking longer than I have been running…..and that is a long time! Hence, AvocadoRunners evolved and I am really glad it did and more importantly, glad you’re here!
If you dare, try this recipe, and compare them to your favorite meatball you’ve been making all these years. If it doesn’t measure up, well than, you need to send me your recipe. Do I sense another Challenge?
The first time I prepared these meatballs, I used free range, grass fed, ground turkey. They were delicious. At first I was a bit hesitate because the recipe calls for soaked bread crumbs, and to be honest, I thought they would be a bit heavy.
In fact, most Italians from other regions when they visit Naples, complain that Neapolitan meatballs are too bready – too meager, too poor, too deceptive. “You call these meatballs?” According to the author, it is, in fact, that high ratio of soaked, dried bread they complain about that makes thees Neapolitan meatballs so light, so crusty, so juicy and so really clever! They encapsulate the bet of Naples, not only in their flavor but in how they make so much of so little.
What I love most about these meatballs, they can be prepared all different ways. Although I prefer ground turkey, they are equally delicious made from grass feed beef which I just purchased from a friend of mine. They are unbelievable light and tasty either way.
I have served them with a vegetable for a main course without a sauce. Most often, I fry them just till brown, but still rare in the middle, than simmer them in a simple tomato sauce. You can than use this sauce to dress macaroni or spaghetti. (My husband’s favorite!).
My favorite way to eat these is with a light tomato sauce and a hunk of crusty bread. Seriously, the BEST MEATBALLS EVER!
If you prefer not to fry them, and just simmer them in a tomato sauce, that’s ok too. They may be a bit breadier though. Any way you cook them up however, Neapolitan meatballs are at their best when freshly made. I added pine nuts and raisins to the meatballs, but you can leave them out if you prefer. It’s really up to the family tastes.
When I first made them, my guests asked, “what is so different about these meatballs……are these raisins in here? Pine nuts?” Ha. How clever are the Napolitans! These little embellishments do make for a much more interesting dish. I can’t wait for you to try them…with raisins or without, it’s your choice.
INGREDIENTS (adapted from NAPLES AT TABLE)
- 2 cups dried crustless bread cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes before measuring (I didn’t bother removing crust)
- 1 pound ground beef (preferably 80 percent lean and not leaner) I used grass fed beef or turkey, but I bet buffalo would be yummy too, or a combination!
- 2 eggs, beaten to mix well
- 1 large cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/3 cup (loosely packed) grated pecorino cheese
- 1/3 cup (loosely packed) finely cut parsley
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 heaping tablespoons raisins
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 quart tomato sauce
- Soak the bread in cold water. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine, but do not yet mix, the remaining ingredients, except the oil and tomato sauce.
- Squeeze the bread by fistfuls to drain it, than break it up into the bowl. First with a fork, than with you hands, blend the meat very well, squishing it in your hands to make sure the bread blends with the meat. Do not worry abut handling the meat too much.
- With your hands moistened in cold water, roll the mixture between your palms into 12 meatball, each using about 1/3 cup of meat.
- Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When a drop of water sizzles immediately , it’s hot enough for the meatballs. Gently place them in the pan a as soon as the first side looks brown, using a metal spatula, dislodge them and turn to another side. As the cooking side browns well, continue rotating the meatballs – I find a combination of wooden spoon and a spatula/hambuger turner does the job best. After about 10 minutes the meatballs should be well browned but still slightly rare in the center.
- If serving the meatballs without sauce, lower the heat slightly and continue to cook, rotating the meatballs regularly, for another 5 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately. If serving the meatballs with sauce, place them in the sauce now and simmer gently for 15 minutes. They may be held, but are best when served within an hour.