The first rule of our trade,” said he, spreading the cloth, “is, not to meddle with the affairs of others; and, what is wonderful, even our women are not curious. It is enough for us that customers pay well; who they are, or who they are not, matters nothing. And now, I will bring you a dish of polpette, the like of which you have never eaten.”
When he returned to the kitchen, and was employed in taking the polpette from the fire, one of the bravoes approached, and said, in an under tone, “Who are those men?”
“Good people of this village,” replied the host, pouring the mince-meat into a dish.”
Excerpt From: Alessandro Manzoni. “The Betrothed / From the Italian of Alessandro Manzoni.” iBooks.”
“The betrothed” by Alessandro Manzoni is an Italian classic. As an Italian, I had to read it in piece and bits since I was at the elementary schools and I have never came to appreciate it in full. Alessandro Manzoni got the inspiration of writing an historical novel from Walter Scott and Walter Scott is reported to say that indeed Manzoni had became the master. Never the less I read all sir Walter Scott’s novels (and love them, especially Ivanhoe) but not the betrothed …until… It was my daughter turn to start to struggle with fitted-in-the- program “betrothed” and I decide to adopt another tactics, we were going in a road trip and instead of listening to music we would listened to the novel read by a famous actor. We loved it. I also understood why Scott called Manzoni a master. Manzoni has a subtle sense of humour that is missing in Scott and that get a lost in the school program.
And here a recipe for polpette (mince-meat balls) ““which would make the dead revive” That Renzo eat soon after he understood he was not going to marry Lucia as fast as he had hoped.
Polpette is an Italian classic. Did you enjoy it? Did you suggest any different ingredient to suits your taste? Please, share…
For the meat balls
½ kg of good beef mince meat
2 slices of white bread (possible a couple of days old)
a small onion
2 tbs of grounded Parmigiano
2tbs of grounded mature Pecorino (if you don’t have Pecorino any other mature sheep cheese would do)
For the sauce:
1 small carrot
1 leave of celery
1 small onion
300 gr of tomato sauce
4 tbs of olive oil
The meat balls
- Combine the milk and the slices of bread: Pour the milk over the bread in a small bowl and set aside while preparing the rest of the meatball mix. The bread will absorb the milk and become soggy.
- Whisk the egg, salt, pepper and cheese mix: Whisk the egg in a large bowl until blended. Whisk in the salt and a generous quantity of black pepper, then whisk in the cheese mix (I Used the KitchenAid with the wire whip).
- Combine the egg and ground meat: Add the meat to the egg mixture. At this stage I use the beater but you can use your hands to thoroughly mix the egg into the ground meat.
- Add the onion and soaked bread: Add the onions, garlic, and soaked bread to the meat. Mix them thoroughly into the meat. Try not to overwork the meat; pinch the meat between your fingers rather than kneading it.
- Form the meat into meat balls: Pinch off a piece of the meat mixture and gently roll between your hands to form 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Continue shaping until all the meat is used.
- Cook the polpette: Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped mix of onion, carrot and celery and cook, uncovered, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until it softens slightly. Add the polpette and cook, gently stirring so that the meatball will be completely sealed. Add the tomato sauce, cover and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes. The meatballs are done when they’re cooked through and register 165°F in the middle on an instant read thermometer. Serve immediately.