Finally the cold temperatures reached this piece of Tuscan land, they came along glorious shining and freezing days. When the weekend gifts us with days like this, there is nothing better than taking your car and leaving the main road, following your instinct rather than your GPS. The instinct often does not choose the shortest paths, or even the most likely, and you find yourself wandering around the Chianti. The vineyards are completely yellow, some are already bare, you follow their Autumn pattern on the hills and chase the Golden Hour to size the best time for photos.
I like leaving the car on the roadside to chase a glimpse, coming back after a short walk totally frozen, with my shoes covered in mud and my face lit up by a smile and a red nose from the cold. What usually is an hour’s drive from Florence to my house, turnes into a three hour adventure. Nothing planned, but for this reason even more unforgettable.
The days might be bright and cold, or rather gloomy and rainy and you are stuck at home, curled up on the sofa watching a movie, but my answer to the question what do you want for dinner? is always one: meatballs.
I’m in the meatballs phase. It is the first time that happens to me: I went through the risotto phase, making it with what the season offered, the baked vegetables phase, filling up the baking tray with colourful veggies. I have also gone through a very brief steamed vegetable phase, seasoning them just with a drizzle of olive oil and salt. But again, this is the first time I’m facing the meatballs phase. I have always enjoyed them, but I have never been so in love with them.
A few days ago I began with these wholesome millet croquettes, and I still have to stop shaping balls with my hands. My meatballs are usually baked, not fried, not just for an healthy purpose but for practical convenience: shape them, coat them with breadcrumbs, brush with olive oil a baking tray and roll your meatballs there, then bake them in the oven for half an hour and wait until they are golden and crisp. It is more convenient , faster and cleaner.
And I love to blend my stale bread to make breadcrumbs. I can control my breadcrumbs and make it coarse, to give some texture to the meatballs.
Pecorino and Emmental cheese give flavour and create a melting heart, while grated orange zest adds a festive aroma and a refreshing taste.
Cooked ham meatballs
- 500 g of cooked ham, cut into thick slices
- 65 g of grated pecorino toscano
- 4 tablespoons of breadcrumbs + breadcrumbs to coat the meatballs
- 2 eggs
- Grated zest of 1 organic orange
- 50 g Emmental, cubed
- Cut the ham into cubes and mince with the meat grinder, then put it in a large bowl. Add the grated pecorino cheese, the beaten eggs, breadcrumbs and orange zest. Season with salt, but taste it first because the ingredients are already very tasty.
- Heat oven to 180°C. Shape the meatballs and place a cube of Emmental in the centre, then roll them in breadcrumbs.
- Arrange them on a greased baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake for about half an hour, until golden brown and crisp
- Serve them hot, until the heart of cheese is still melting, with a side dish of sautéed pumpkin and red onion.
Which are your favourite meatballs? I love eggplant and cheese (meat)balls, too!