Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Meatballs with white wine, lemon & bay leaves
Not all my efforts in the kitchen this weekend were completely in vain. I made these meatballs following a recipe in Clarissa Hyman’s Cucina Siciliana, and I thought they were delicious.
It is a beautiful book filled with pictures and stories of Sicily. I have browsed through it, lingering over the pictures and checking out the recipes, but have not yet had a chance to read much of the narrative. The recipes seem a little less precise than those you normally see in books and magazines, calling for a glass of wine, a “good glug” of marsalla, or a handful of mint leaves, but perhaps this is truer to the original recipes.
There were two things I especially liked about this recipe even before I had a chance to taste the meatballs. First, it makes a small quantity – it uses just 9 ounces of meat and makes about 15 smallish meatballs. I think the recipe could easily be doubled, but this quantity is enough for three meals for me. I also liked the way the meatballs were cooked – it looked easy and sounded yummy. The meatballs were shaped into slightly flattened rounds, browned on both sides (I get really frustrated trying to brown round meatballs!) and then simmered in wine, water, bay leaves, and (at the last minute) lemon juice. The cooking liquid is reduced and ultimately becomes a wonderful pan sauce that coats the meatballs.
I had to make two emergency substitutions, but the meatballs seemed to be none the worse for it. I thought I had dried bread crumbs on hand – but I was wrong. I considered substituting fresh bread crumbs but then remembered my Mom used to use saltine cracker crumbs when making meatloaf. I crushed 14 crackers in a plastic bag using my rolling pin and ended up with just over the ½ of cup of crumbs called for in the recipe. I didn’t add any salt since the crackers were salted. I also found that the only white wine I had on hand was the tail end of a bottle of white zinfandel – not exactly what you would expect to find in a Sicilian kitchen! But it all worked, and worked well. The meatballs were easy to handle, easy to cook, and fantastic to eat!