When we think of meatballs, we think of Italian meatballs in tomato sauce served with spaghetti. Actually, meatballs are very international and they can be prepared in many different ways. Meatballs are found in almost every cuisine. It’s likely that meatballs were created to avoid waste. Turning leftover meat into a meatball is still an economical way of conserving resources. When grounded or shredded meat is mixed with spices and liquids (i.e.: milk or vinegar), it becomes tender and flavorsome.
Different countries have created their own way of preparing and serving meatballs. In Italy, meatballs are traditionally made with ground beef and pork and they are baked or fried. They can be served with a brandy or herb sauce (more similar to a broth) or they can be stuffed with mozzarella. Above all, they are usually served alone as an entrée. The combination of the spaghetti and meatballs was created to please Americans, who craved red meat with their pasta.
In Brazil, meatballs are deep-fried and often served as part of an entrée paired with side dishes like rice, beans and vegetables. Every time we have these meatballs for dinner, the entire family eats very well! Really! To my husband, this dish is a good representation of southern Brazilian cuisine. These meatballs are also great for parties!
Below is my version of these appetizing dish.
1lb of extra lean ground beef
5oz pf ground pork
2/3 cup of low fat milk
1 cup of fine dried bread crumbs
1 teaspoon of paprika
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup of red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of dried Italian herbs seasoning
¼ cup of parsley, finely chopped (optional)
All purpose flour for dusting
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Heat a large sauté pan with about 2 inches of vegetable oil to 375F.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine meat, milk, bread crumbs, garlic, onion, paprika, salt, pepper, Italian herbs and parsley. Using a large spoon, mix throughout. Lightly flour your hand and shape into small sized inch meatballs. Push back any piece of onion that poke through the meat or they will burn. Roll them onto flour.
Fry the meatballs over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning them once after 5 minutes. Work in batches if necessary. Immediately transfer the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess oil or grease. Serve hot or at room temperature.
These meatballs can be added to tomato sauce or served as an appetizer accompanied by dipping sauces.
Preserve meatballs in the refrigerate in a airtight container for about 2 weeks. They can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Makes about 45 meatballs.