Camp song, kids song, goofy song, boy scouts song. You remember:
“On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table,
And on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door….”
Well you get the picture. Great balls of meat! I like this particular recipe maybe because it includes the words “winter” and “meat.” It’s called “Winter Meatballs with Savoy Cabbage” by my cookbook of the month-Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. What separates this meatball from all others is the milk added to the recipe to make it real moist. I also like it because it is not another Pasta dish and the meatballs go atop of the savoy cabbage.
Winter Meatballs with Savoy Cabbage
1/3 cup milk
A slice of good quality white bread, trimmed of its crust
1 pound ground beef, preferably chuck
2 ounces pancetta chopped very fine
1 Tablespoon parsley
2 Tablespoons onion chopped very fine
3 Tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
1 cup fine, dry, unflavored, bread crumbs, spread on a plate
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds Savoy Cabbage
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2/3 cup canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, drained and cut up into coarse pieces
Put the milk and bread in a small saucepan, and turn on the heat to low. When the bread has soaked up all the milk, mash it to a pulp with a fork. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Put the ground meat, chopped pancetta, egg, salt, pepper, parsley, onion, grated parmesan, and the bread and milk mush in bowl. Gently knead the mixture with your hands without squeezing into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll the balls lightly in the bread crumbs.
Choose a saute pan that can subsequently accommodate all the meatballs in a single layer. Pour in enough vegetable oil to come 1/4 inch up the sides. Turn on the heat up to medium high and when the oil is hot, slip in the meatballs. Sliding them in a with a spatula will avoid splashing hot oil out of the pan.
Brown the meatballs on all sides, turning them carefully so they won’t break up. When they are done, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula and transfer then to a cooling rack to drain or a platter to drain lined with paper towels. Pour the oil from the pan, and wipe the pan dry with paper towels.
Discard any of the cabbage’s bruised or blemished leaves. Detach the other leaves from the core, and shred them into strips about 1/4 inch wide.
Put the olive oil and chopped garlic into the saute pan, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook and stir the garlic until it becomes colored gold, then add all the shredded cabbage. Turn it over 2 or 3 times to coat it well, cover the pan, and turn the heat down to a minimum.
Cook for 40 minutes (this part took less time for me-at least 20 minutes), turning the cabbage from time to time until it has become very soft and it is reduced to one-third its original bulk. Add a liberal amount of salt and pepper, bearing in mind that the cabbage is very sweet (I did not think it was sweet-but it could have been the cabbage I selected) and needs considerable seasoning to suit.
Turn up the heat to medium, uncover the pan, and continue to cook the cabbage. When it becomes colored a light nut brown, add the cut up tomatoes, stir to coat well and cook for another -15 minutes. Return the meatballs to the pan, turning them over 2-3 times in the cabbage and tomatoes. Cover the pan turn the heat down to low, and cook for 10 minutes. (At this point I added the meatballs back into the pan to warm the them together with the cabbage and tomatoes). YOU WILL NOT REGRET YOU MADE THESE. This a great dish!