Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Polpette Alla Siciliana

This dish takes me back, My old chum Gianni had a little Italian Restaurant in Soho, London on Great Windmill Street, This is his dish we had unforgettable times there and more often than not I came out from Lunch at 9.00am the next morning.

It was a very old school place, small, loads of photographs on the wall I distinctly remember an Italian poster for the Godfather film "Il Padrino". The tables had checked red and white tablecloths and every table had an old bottle with a candle, covered in wax.It was dark and old fashioned,  Frank Sinatra music playing and mixture from Aristocracy to East End Gangsters and the odd B list celebrity. Key was Gianni had to like you. and he loved everyone.
They were great days. It was after an all night party one Saturday night at his Restaurant that on the Sunday morning old Gianni taught me this dish, whenever I eat it I think of him and the times we had there. I even had my own key to the restaurant in case I wanted a late night drink, can you imagine that now. It's long since gone and is now some chain restaurant or another. Bless him Lovely man, they were great days and only twenty or so years ago.

Start with a proper Tomato sauce, Sauté some crushed garlic in Olive Oil add some chopped Basil stalks and a couple of Anchovy fillets. After a minute or two add some Cherry Tomatoes some whole some in halves,let them cook on high heat couple of minutes. Now add a good glass of White wine let it reduce for a minute or so, then add a tin of chopped Tomatoes. Reduce the heat add a tsp Dried Oregano and half teaspoon of Rosemary. A tablespoon or two of dried Parsley a cup of Chicken Stock and let it simmer.

Now start your Meatballs. Only use Ground Beef,add two or three tablespoons of breadcrumbs, The zest of a lemon a tablespoon of dried Oregano the same of Parsley a glug of Olive Oil and mix with your hands to make golfball sized Meatballs.

Place on a parchment lined baking tray and put in the fridge.
After half an hour or so take them out the fridge and dust in Flour. You will during this time have constantly stirred the Tomato sauce and consumed a bottle of Wine,
essential by all accounts.
The Tomato Sauce will be rich, taste it, and Season generously, it may need a swig of Olive Oil or squeeze of Lemon juice adjust the seasoning to your taste
Now in a scorching hot Skillet add some Olive Oil and add the Meatballs,keep shaking the pan to stop them burning and then turn the heat down to medium. Keep shaking and turning the meatballs in all, not much longer than four minutes tops.

Now Ladle the sauce on the plate, and add your Meatballs scatter some baby Basil and Parsley leaves, grate some Parmesan Cheese on top and serve. Thank you Gianni, It's your dish, I miss those care free decadent days. I miss old Gianni. God Bless


  1. Gorgeous tale and delightful meatballs!! I feel I've been to that restaurant and I think there was another one similar around the corner called Topo Gigio. Did you go there? Loved it's 60's charm. Great post!!

    1. Yes I have ,This was called Cafe Bar Sicilia, Great days where have they gone .Life is so rarely like that now

  2. I feel vindicated by this story, as my husband is quite certain that neither garlic nor wine should ever touch a tomato sauce. I, however, have put both in and one time or another - and from now on shall continue to do so. I shall simply refer him to this blog post when he complains (although what he's got to complain about, God only knows!). LOL Lovely tale of warmly remembered times and people.