Cheese and egg meatballs (pallotte cacio e uova) are the emblem of the typical cuisine of Abruzzo.
A peasant-farmer extraction, it’s historically considered a traditional dish of the poor, enough so to categorically oust meat from its list of ingredients.
The marriage between cheese and eggs is revisited in countless local recipes. Some say that it’s the precursor of carbonara. Born in the Apennines of Abruzzo at the end of World War II, when American soldiers arrived with smoked bacon and added it to the local and “partisan” cheese and eggs, but that is another story.
Going back to the meatballs, and turning our attention to the recipe; ingredients for the dough of the meatballs are:
200 g. of pecorino (Abruzzese) semi-aged and grated
200 g. of cow cheese semi-aged and grated
100 g. of grated Parmesan
250 g. of grated breadcrumbs
a pinch of black pepper
a handful of chopped parsley
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
In a bowl, mix cheese, parsley, garlic, bread, eggs (add one at a time to verify the consistency of the mixture) and black pepper until they form a homogeneous dough to be left to rest at least 15 minutes. Then make meatballs (size to your liking) to be fried in plenty of olive oil.
Let them cook well until they are golden brown. At this point, drain them. Make sure to replace the oil if you decide to use the same pan, and prepare a simple sauce with a base of onions, tomato sauce, basil, and a pinch of salt.
As soon as the sauce is ready, immerse the meatballs in the sauce and simmer for fifteen minutes.
The end result?
A soft and spongy meatball, soaked in a fresh tomato sauce, which at first cut puts on display an enviable porosity, while the first taste reveals a strong, full taste, a perfect balance between the intensity of the cheese and the sweetness of the tomato. A nice game of compensation and genuine pleasure of the senses will invoke praise of the traditional cuisine of Abruzzo.
Translated by Alan Glenn Embree
[Credits | Photography: Carmelita Cianci]