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ITALIAN WEEK: MAMA'S MEAT BALLS

The dead of winter is the perfect time for the comfort of hearty Italian food. This week, we'll feature recipes that will put the mama back in your mia. This is one of Italian chef Rocco DiSpirito's famous recipes and is found on his Web site, roccodispirito.com.

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup chicken stock

1/4 yellow onion

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 lb. ground pork

1/2 lb. ground veal

1/3 cup plain bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

3-6 cups of your favorite marinara sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Place the chicken stock, onion, garlic and parsley in a blender of food processor and puree.

In a large bowl, combine the pureed stock mix, meat, bread crumbs, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, red pepper flakes, parsley and salt. Combine with both hands until mixture is uniform. Do not over mix.

Put a little olive oil on your hands and form mixture into balls a little larger than golf balls. They should be about 1/4 cup each, though if you prefer bigger or smaller, it will only affect the browning time.

Pour about 1/2-inch of extra virgin olive oil into a straight-sided, 10-inch-wide saute pan and heat over medium-high flame. Add the meatballs to the pan (working in batches as necessary) and brown meatballs, turning once. This will take about 10-15 minutes.

While the meatballs are browning, heat the marinara sauce in a stockpot over medium heat. Lift the meatballs out of the saute pan with a slotted spoon and put them in the marinara sauce. Stir gently. Simmer for one hour.

Serve with a little extra Parmigiano-Reggiano sprinkled on top. Serve alone or over spaghetti (in which case, you will need 6 cups of marinara).

Serves 4 as antipasto or over spaghetti.

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