Your run-of-the-mill meatball has niente on Barbacco’s polpette—a Sicilian fête of flavors rolled up in three mammoth orbs by chef and co-owner Staffan Terje. Served at the restaurant with a superb tomato sugo over a bed of braised chard, the morsels, speckled with sweet golden raisins and toothsome pine nuts, offer a mouthful of umami followed by a subtle, enduring heat. These balls belong on your holiday table.
1 cup milk
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 pounds ground pork
2 cloves garlic, grated
on a microplane
2 teaspoons dry oregano
2 teaspoons chili flakes
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Olive oil for cooking
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk eggs and milk together in a large bowl. Add breadcrumbs and let sit for 10 minutes.
3. Add ground pork and remaining ingredients to the bowl, and mix thoroughly.
4. Heat some olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
5. Form a 1-ounce meat patty, and fry in pan until cooked through. Taste the meat and adjust seasoning if necessary.
6. Roll out the rest of the meat by hand into 2½-ounce meatballs (makes about 12). Place on a paper-lined sheet pan.
7. Brown meatballs in olive oil over medium heat (they should still be raw in the center). Work in batches and don’t crowd the pan.
8. Place the meatballs in a single layer in a baking dish, and cover halfway with heated tomato sauce.
9. Bake until done, about 25 minutes.
10. Serve over sautéed greens, soft polenta, or pasta. Top with grated Parmesan.
This article was published in 7x7's December/January issue.