March 2, 2015

Bocci and meatballs

Last night it snowed. Again. On March 1st. All I hear these days is grumble, grumble, snow, grumble.

Whenever one of her children experiences a “crisis of self”, an unforeseen life emergency or find ourselves stuck in a general pattern of “when it rains it pours” (or more appropriate perhaps, when it snows it blizzards) my mother tells us the same story. She was going through a difficult break up. She had just received her pink slip at work and then later that afternoon a drunk driver totaled her car (while she was in it). She had the police officer drive her to Nonna and Papa’s house where they of course, were hosting a neighborhood bocce party (they were always hosting bocce parties).  As my mom tells the story, she walked into the backyard, burst into tears and Nonna shook her head, told her to get herself some wine and then said, really Ann Marie, what are you going to do when you have a real problem?

So, to all of my fellow New Englanders moaning about the 100+ inches of snow, the colossal ice dams (I’m not saying I want one to land on anyone, but it would be kind of great to see a few people get a “close call”…), the impossibly cold temperatures, the inability to drive down the pothole ridden, ice covered streets, the… wait, what was my point?

Right. We could have REAL problems and winter isn’t making my list. Snow is what we do in Massachusetts. So to all the winter haters I ask you, what are you going to do when you have a real problem? Probably, you should just pour yourself another hot toddy and make some meatballs.

One last note- to this day, Nonna has yet to determine any life situation to be a “real problem”. Something to think about.

Tiny Veal Meatballs 
Adapted from Angela Catanzaro’s recipe in Mama Mia, Italian Cookbook

It takes some time to roll out these delightful little balls of deliciousness, but I assure you that they are well worth your efforts.  Being so delicate and small, there is no need to fry them; they can be cooked right in your tomato sauce.

My favorite way to prepare these meatballs is to poach them in some homemade chicken stock with leeks, kale and some Arborio rice. It’s the perfect antidote to a snowy night.

1 slice day-old bread
1 lb ground veal (if you [unlike me] have issues with eating baby cows feel free to substitute ground pork)
2 eggs
2 TBSP grated Pecorino cheese
1 tsp chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Soak the bread in warm water for 5 minutes, and then squeeze it dry with your hands. Combine bread with remaining ingredients, mixing well. Angela Catanzaro says you should then “shape the meat into balls no bigger than a filbert”, which according to our friend Wikipedia, is an alternative name for a hazelnut.

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