Casa Mia

Casa Mia

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Meatball Variation alla Enza

I think I've mentioned this before: my husband is Sicilian and no, he is NOT in the Mafia. I do admit that he does have tendencies to "never forget" an injustice upon him and I have used all the standard Sicilian "mafioso" digs on him in our fights over the years but beyond that veneer, he is honest, generous and perhaps unfortunately, not involved in any dirty business that might help our declining financial situation. He's also into food as much as I am - it's been the common bond between us from the start and sometimes, the only bond. For the most part, the Calabrese/Sicilian connection is not always an easy one, but I digress....

The Sicilians cook so differently from what I consider "Italian" cooking. My late mother-in-law used onion, hard boiled eggs, pignoli nuts and raisins in her roasts, meatloaf, meatballs and those other home-style, old- fashioned dishes made with organ meats, like soffritto, that are no longer considered healthy. I ate risotto for the first time at her house (again with chicken livers), caponata, asparagus soup and baby lamb and I thought pasta alla norma was really pasta alla Enza until a few years ago. Although very different from my mother's cooking, I learned to appreciate Enza's Sicilian style. And in case I forgot, she  would frequently remind me in her heavy Italian accent: "After all, Valeria, I am Sicilian..." as though that alone was justification for everything she said or did. I say this affectionately - she was a kind, happy, strong woman who thought I was a great Italian cook "for an American girl" and she is missed by us all.

This blog will talk a lot about my family and the recipes that I grew up with or cultivated myself during my own life experiences but it will also provide some of my mother-in-law's Sicilian ones as well. One of the things I loved was "agre dolce", sour and sweet, broccoli and meatballs. Although she made her meatballs differently from mine and the recipe I had provided, I have used my meatball mixture in this recipe and served it as a main course with rice or some simple pasta on the side.

Try it out and let me know what you think.

Enza's Agre Dolce Meatballs
Meatball mixture (see Jan. 20 post)
2 onions sliced thin
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 c. vinegar
Olive oil for frying (not EVOO)

After mixing the meatballs, shape them into large squares, rather than rounds. Enza made big meatballs and these need to hold their shape.
  • In a large pot, not a frying pan, add oil up to about 2" high and heat.
  • Fry the meatballs with the sliced onions, turning on each side.
  • When meatballs are browned and mostly cooked, add the sugar and vinegar to the pot. Stir, loosening up the onions but being careful not to break the meatballs.
  • Cover and let boil 6-7 minutes. If liquid is evaporating quickly, lower the heat slightly.
  • Simmer 5 minutes more and serve.


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  2. Valerie! I enjoy your cooking blog :) I'm looking forward to some more recipes! Feel free to follow my blog! I hope to write more frequently (I almost forgot about it)!

    Talk to you soon,
    Lauren :)