The Milanese poet Giovanni Raiberti called Milano "the capital of meatballs". Anything left over from a previous meal can go into a polpetta or polpettina. It’s a good way to avoid wasting food.
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) eggplant (aubergine), cut into 3–4 cm (1¼–1½ in) cubes
- 100 g (3½ oz) moist breadcrumbs from day-old bread
- ½ cup (80 g/2¾ oz) pine nuts
- 30 g (1 oz) Grana Padano, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 small red chillies, minced
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- extra virgin olive oil
- ⅔ cup (80 g/2¾ oz) fine dry breadcrumbs
- tomato passata
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
WINE Franciacorta Rosè
Bring 2 litres (70 fl oz) water and 1 tablespoon salt to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the eggplant and boil for about 10 minutes, uncovered, until soft, pushing it under the water repeatedly with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
Drain, cool and press with a spoon to remove any excess liquid. Chop and put in a bowl with the moist breadcrumbs, pine nuts, Grana Padano, garlic, chillies, eggs and parsley. Blend gently using a fork. Season.
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan until hot and fry a tablespoon of the mixture to check for seasoning. Roll the mixture into 2.5 cm (1 in) balls and put on a tray. If the mixture is too wet to roll easily, add more fresh breadcrumbs. Roll each ball in the dry breadcrumbs to coat evenly.
Pour oil into a wide frying pan to a depth of 1 cm (½ in). Turn the heat to medium and when the oil begins to shimmer put a ball in. If it begins to sizzle immediately, the oil is ready. Fry the balls until browned all over. Drain on paper towels. Cool for 10 minutes, then serve with tomato passata.
Recipe and image from Stefano Manfredi's Italian Food, Stefano Manfredi (Allen & Unwin, $59.99, hbk)