serves: 8 - 10 servings
In Umbria, small meatballs are often served simply, floating in a bowl of hot chicken broth. This is a fine custom, in my opinion: it makes the soup more special and substantial, and the broth enhances the carefully homemade meatballs. The diminutive pork and veal polpetti in this recipe incorporates small amounts of plump raisins, pine nuts, and orange zest, delicate flavors that might be overwhelmed by bold pasta sauce but stand out in a spoonful of light, clear broth. You can either fry or poach the meatballs (the fried have more flavor; the poached are healthier), but either way they are delicious for the meatballs.
1⅓ pounds ground pork
⅔ pound ground veal
2 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
½ cup fine dry bread crumbs
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
Zest of 1 orange, grated
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted and chopped
2 tablespoons golden raisins, softened in hot water, drained and chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, for dredging
½ cup vegetable oil, for frying meatballs
4 quarts chicken stock
Baking sheet covered in parchment paper;
Crumble the ground pork and veal into a large bowl, breaking up any clumps with your fingers, and toss to mix them. Pour the beaten eggs over the meat, and scatter on top the bread crumbs, grated cheese, orange zest, chopped pine nuts and raisins, and salt. Fold and toss and squeeze the meat through your fingers to distribute all the ingredients evenly.
Scoop up a small amount of the meat mix-about a heaping teaspoon and roll it in your palms to form a 1-inch ball (the size of a large grape). Set it on a tray lined with wax paper or parchment, and form the rest of the mixture into meatballs, you should have sixty or more.
Now either fry or poach the meatballs, before final heating in stock for serving.
To fry the meatballs: Spread a good layer of flour on a large plate or tray. Pour a thin layer of vegetable oil in the skillet, and heat it slowly. Dredge a batch of the meatballs in flour and set them a tray. Heat up the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the meatballs. Fry them for about 5 minutes, turning and moving them occasionally, until browned on all sides. Remove them to a tray or platter. Repeat until all the meatballs are browned.
To poach the meatballs: Fill a big pot with 3 quarts of lightly salted water and bring it to a boil. Drop in half the meatballs, cover the pot and return to a boil quickly. Once simmering, remove the lid and poach for 5 minutes, until; cooked through. Lift out the meatballs with a spider or strainer and repeat the process with the other meatballs.
To serve, heat the broth in the soup pot until simmering. Gently drop in the fried pr poached meatballs, and slowly bring the soup back to simmer so the meatballs heat through.
Fill warm soup bowls with broth and meatballs, and serve while very hot, with plenty of freshly grated cheese.