After spending 12 weeks in Tuscany, it's safe to say that Trattoria Marcella's (3600 Watson Road; 314-352-7706) Steve Komorek knows his Italian food. And when we say Italian food, we're not talking about your average spaghetti and meatballs. Italian cuisine varies depending on the region, and ranges from hearty rabbit stews to wild-chick peas. Of course, there's always the same standout ingredient: extra virgin olive oil.
Komorek's recipe for meatballs with creamy polenta is no exception to this rule, as the meatballs alone call for 6 tablespoons of Olive Oil, and another 6 are used to make the sauce. Soft, milky breadcrumbs and a generous helping of Parmigiano Reggiano round out this Tuscan-inspired dish. The recipe is perfect for a crisp fall evening, and will keep you warm through the upcoming winter months. After only a few bites, you'll be living la dolce vita.
Meatballs with Creamy Polenta Serves 6
Meatballs 3 cups day old bread, cut into 1" cubes 1 cup milk 1 lb. lean sirloin, ground 1/2 lb. lean pork, ground 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated 3 eggs, beaten 3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Tomato sauce 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 large yellow onion, diced 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped 2 28 oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand 1 tsp garlic, minced salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Creamy polenta 1 qt. chicken stock 1 1/2 cups polenta 1/2 cup 40% whipping cream 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated 3 tbsp unsalted butter
Meatballs: In a large shallow bowl, soak bread cubes in milk, using fingers to help break up the cubes. Add ground meats and cheese; mix well (do not over-mix, as meat will become tough). Add parsley, salt and pepper and form large meatballs. Add oil to hot skillet; brown meatballs in skillet. When meatballs are browned, add to sauce pot and simmer until cooked through.
Sauce: Heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent (8-10 mins). Add basil and garlic; sauté briefly. Add tomatoes and juice, simmer until slightly thickened.
Polenta: In a large sauce pan, bring the stock to a boil add cream. Whisk in cornmeal and lower the temperature. Cook until firm then add butter, cheese, salt and pepper. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon until polenta pulls away from the side of the pot. Serve hot with meatballs topped with tomato sauce.
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