I'm back with another recipe from Katie Parla's latest book, "Tasting Rome," and the winner of the cookbook giveaway.
The lucky winner, chosen by a random number generator on my computer, was Pat, from the blog, Mille Fiori Favoriti. Congratulations, Pat.
For those of you who didn't win, here's another great enticement to get the cookbook.
It's a recipe for chicken meatballs and I can just hear you saying, "But chicken meatballs aren't Italian." Well, you'd be right, kind of, but not if you factored in the Libyan Jews who migrated to Rome following the anti-Semitic violence in Tripoli and Benghazi in 1967.
As Katie explains in her book, about 4,500 Libyan Jews live in Rome today, making up about a third of the city's Jewish community.
Their cuisine highlights the flavors of North Africa, with spices like cinnamon, cumin, caraway, paprika and turmeric.
That's what intrigued me to try these chicken meatballs in white wine sauce, spiced up with cinnamon, nutmeg and pistachios. Forget the tomato sauce for this one, and pull out a nice bottle of white wine to use in the sauce instead. I made my meatballs about the size of golf balls, and got about 20, rather than 30 to 35 polpette if you make them the size of walnuts, as the recipe states.
I made a couple of adjustments to the recipe too, adding double the amount of pistachios (because I can't get enough of pistachios). I also removed the shallots from the pan after they were softened, since I was concerned that they might burn if I kept them in while the meatballs were browning. I returned the cooked shallots back to the pan after the meatballs were browned, then added the wine and broth, adding more of those too, so I could have more sauce. I wanted enough sauce to spill over to the farro I served alongside the meatballs, but I think these would be equally delicious with a pasta or rice side too.
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Polpette di Pollo in Bianco
Chicken Meatballs in White Wine Sauce
From "Tasting Rome" by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill
3 slices day-old bread of any kind, crusts removed
1 cup chicken broth or water, plus more for cooking, warmed (I used about 1 1/2 cups)
1 3/4 pounds ground chicken
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons pistachios, chopped (I doubled this)
2 packed tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium shallots, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used about 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
Soak the bread for a few minutes in 1 cup warm chicken broth. When it has softened, squeeze out the excess liquid and place the bread in a large bowl.
Add the ground chicken, eggs, garlic, salt, pepper to taste, cinnamon, nutmeg, pistachios, and half the parsley. Mix thoroughly by hand. Form the mixture into balls roughly the size of walnuts and set aside.
In a large frying pan or cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the shallots and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, about five minutes. (At this point, I removed the shallots and browned the meatballs, then put the shallots back in and added the wine and the broth, etc.)
Meanwhile, lightly dust the meatballs all over with flour (a mesh strainer works well for this) and shake off any excess. Add them to the pan and brown all over. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the sides and bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. When the alcohol aroma dissipates, about a minute, add enough broth or water to cover the meatballs about halfway. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, until a creamy sauce has formed, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season with lemon juice, garnish with the remaining parsley, and serve the meatballs warm or at room temperature with the sauce spooned over.
tip: If the meatball mixture is sticky, wet your hands with warm water before rolling.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City. Copyright (c) 2016 by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.