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Super Secret Italian Meatball Recipe

By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:

Do you remember the seminal moments in that superb Disney movie when the Tramp offers the last meatball to the Lady, rolling it to her with his nose? And the spaghetti kiss? The two beautiful doggies share a plate of spaghetti and meatballs in a romantic Italian restaurant. I adore this movie . . . but I have to tell you something important: there is no such "Spaghetti and Meatball" dish in Italy!

Even though the recipe I'm going to share with you has the same ingredients as this staple American dish—a perfectly good, yummy dish—we just don't eat it that way.

I like to think of myself as the "Queen of Meatballs"! I've made hundreds of them over the years to achieve supreme expertise in the art of polpetta—as we call them in Italy. My meatballs can make miracles. They can cheer you up during a lockdown and surprise your family or your love with something fantastic and full of flavor. They are delicious to share with the people you love, and they are a wonderful way to use up leftovers.

Here's my secret recipe. Bon Apetito!

Ippo's Polpette

1 lb. (300 g) ground pork meat

1 lb. (300g) ground beef meat

1 slice of mortadella, shredded

1 thin slice of ham, shredded

2 slices of bread

1 egg

1/2 lb. (200 g) fresh sheep ricotta

1 Tbs grated Parmesan

A lemon rind

1 Tbs Pine nuts

Fresh basil leaves

Dash of nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

Extra-Virgin olive oil

A handful of flour

Use a large bowl to soak the slices of bread in the milk, adding a dash of nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Add the ground meat, mortadella, ham, and beaten egg. Mix well with a fork.

Add the Parmesan and my secret ingredients: fresh sheep ricotta, shredded basil leaves, pine nuts, and grated lemon zest. Mix well and form into tight little balls.

Add 2 Tbs flour to a plastic container and gently add the meatballs. Cover the container with a lid and shake gently until the meatballs are lightly covered in flour. Make sure the meatballs are firm, round, and completely covered.

Heat 2 Tbs of oil in a large pan and fry the meatballs until golden, rolling them around with a wooden spoon.


* If you really want to, cook the meatballs in tomato sauce, boil some spaghetti, and create your dish Lady and the Tramp style.


Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup,Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), and Superfoods, Ippo is currently finishing her latest work, The Lords of Florence (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).

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