February 9, 2018
These meatballs are really mystical if you consider the sway they hold on my husband, his brother, and his father. They go wild for these meatballs.
Well, wild in that very restrained Northern Italian way.
If they were Southern Italian, where a dinner conversation can seem like a minor riot, their meatball response would barely register on the scale. It would signal almost utter disregard for the meatballs.
But that, in fact, is not the case. The meatballs hold some sort of magical, mystical charm.
Marisa, of course, is my mother-in-law and these are her meatballs. She considers them quite unusual, having learned to make them from her mother and basically not remembering any other relatives or friends making something similar.
And, as meatballs, they ARE unusual!
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But here’s a secret that I haven’t told anyone yet. They really AREN’T meatballs. They’re croquettes! Crocchette in Italian.
There, I said it. Marisa’s Mystical Meatballs aren’t really meatballs. But everybody in the family calls them “Ma’s Meatballs.” “Ma’s Croquettes” doesn’t have the same alliterative allure, even if it’s more accurate.
When I did a Google search for crocchette, Google turned up about 1,730,000 results in 0.51 seconds. When I searched for crocchette patate e carne (potato and meat croquettes), Google returned 1,500,000 results in 0.72 seconds.
And that was doing searches in Italian!
I found a Japanese woman who seems to have the same relationship to her mother’s meat and potato croquettes (korokke) as my husband and his family have to his mother’s.
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The meat for these “meatballs” (a word I’ll use in deference to my husband and his family of origin) is boiled before being finely chopped. This presents a perfect opportunity to make a really nice beef broth. You don’t have to do that, of course, but since you’re going to be boiling the meat anyhow, and since it only takes a few extra minutes to throw some aromatics into the pot, why not!
The broth from the meat for the specific batch of meatballs shown in this blog is sitting in the freezer ready to be turned into Auntie Helen’s Stracciatella, which will be coming up on the blog next month.
If you have a favorite family recipe and a bit of a story to tell, please email me at email@example.com and we can discuss including it in the blog. I am expanding the scope of my blog to include traditional recipes from around the country and around the world. If you haven’t seen Bertha’s Flan or Melinda’s Drunken Prunes, take a look. They will give you an idea of what I’m looking for.