If you ask someone for an example of authentic Italian food you are likely to receive a list of items similar to the following:
- Fettucini alfredo
- Bread sticks
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Anything else off the Olive Garden and Fazoli's menus
Well I am sorry to say that none of these (well, OK pizza is pretty prominent around these parts) are what Italians would consider authentic dishes. Sure they may be based (however loosely) around Italian cuisine but if you come here and ask for fettucini alfredo with a side of cheesy bread sticks you'll probably just end up with a basket of bread, a bottle of olive oil and an exasperated cameriere. The best advice I can offer to anyone who will ever travel to foreign countries (and not just to Italy) is to not let the stereotypes drive your vacation (especially when it comes to the food). You're in a new place, try new things!
That said, if you still like the items in the list above (and who doesn't long for Fazoli's fettucini alfredo and unlimited bread sticks?!), you're in luck. The recipe below is for simple meatballs and an even simpler spaghetti sauce. All you need is a little time and a bottle of red.
- 3/4 lb. ground beef
- 3/4 lb. ground pork
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 handful fresh parsely, finely chopped
- 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. breadcrumbs
- 1/2 c. flour
- 1/2 c. Chianti
- 12 oz. can tomato sauce
- 8 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 small handful basil, chopped
- Mix well the meats, onion, garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes in a large bowl (salt and pepper to taste). I would recommend using a fork or spatula during the mixing stages because the colder the meat stays, the better it will roll.
- Break the eggs directly into the bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Add the breadcrumbs a little bit at a time, mixing between additions until you have a workable product.
- Pinch off small chunks of the meat mixture and roll into 1/2" balls.
- Lightly dredge each meatball through flour.
- Heat a large sauté pan with a good amount of extra virgin olive oil.
- Carefully add the floured meatballs to the pan and brown on all sides.
- A few minutes after you have browned the last meatballs, add the Chianti and gently move the wine around the pan coating the meatballs evenly.
- At this time, drop in the tomatoes and basil, mix gently and reduce the heat to a simmer. You may want to add a cup of water (or so) to the pan to allow the sauce to permeate the meatballs.
- Once the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency, remove it from heat and serve immediately over spaghetti or any other noodle you deem appropriate.