mercoledì 1 febbraio 2017

Eggs and cheese "pallotte"

 "Pallotte cacio e uova" (cheese and eggs balls) are a traditional dish of Abruzzo (central Italy region). 
This recipe was probably created by the shepards, a long long time ago. The only things they had at disposal were the milk of the sheeps to make some cheese, some eggs of their hens, some bread slices and the aromatic wild herbs
They put all these ingredients together and these tasty and nourishing balls were born. 

Pallotte cacio e uova
According to the tradition, the "pallotte" are big size balls, but today people use to make also smaller balls to serve as appetizer or finger food. 
Someone use to serve them without sauce, with a glass of fresh wine, as an "aperitivo". 
The typical cheeses to make the "pallotte" is the Pecorino abruzzese and the Rigatino, that respectively are a sheep hard cheese and a cow semi-hard cheese, but we know that it is not so simple to find these cheeses anywhere. 
You can arrange the recipe by replacing the a.m. ingredients with other kind of cheeses: two of them have to be aged cheese (one more salted, the other less)  and the third one semi-hard cow cheese. 
The final consistency of the cheesy balls will be quite spongy. So, let's make them!

Ingredients for 8 cheesy-balls 
  • 100 g of Pecorino or other hard sheep cheese 
  • 100 g of semi-hard cow cheese   
  • 50 g of grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 3 eggs 
  • 125 g of bread, only the soft inner part of the loaf
  • 2 tabsp of chopped parsley
  • 400 g of peeled tomatoes 
  • 1 small onion 
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • 1 litre frying oil 
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste  
Difficulty: medium - Time: 40 minutes

First of all, make the tomato sauce. Finely slice the onion. Place in a sauce pan or a skillet 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and let the onion get brown, slowly, on low heat. Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes (even in the food processor) and then pour them into the pan with the onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about twenty minutes on low heat. If  the sauce gets too thick, add some water: actually, you will need a quite liquid sauce to cook the pallotte. 

While the sauce goes on cooking, make the cheese balls. Finely grate the cheeses, and dice the bread. Take a large bowl and place into it: grated cheeses, bread, chopped parsley and chopped or squeezed clove of garlic. Do not add salt: cheese will give the right saltiness to the pallotte. 

Combine everything and place in the fridge to rest for 10/15 minutes. If the eggs you are using are big, it may be that the dough would result too soft. In that case, make a test: if you can roll a ball, it's ok, otherwise add some bread. Viceversa, if the dough is too firm to be manipulated, add an egg or a bit of milk. After the rest, shape the balls with the hands: we did 8 mid-size balls, but you can make 4 big balls or 16 small ones. 

Warm up the oil for frying: quickly fry the pallotte (they will get brown very soon). Turn them on each side: this step is only to make the external crust, not to cook the cheesy balls. How to know if the oil is hot enough? Pour into it a small bread crust: if it bubbles, it's time to fry, if not wait a bit. 

Drain the fried pallotte on some kitchen paper towels, then place them into the tomato sauce and cook for 15 minutes on low heat, turning them upside down once. Eat them as soon as they are out of the stove. And make sure to have some bread to make the "scarpetta"! (do you know what's a "scarpetta is"? literally is a little shoe, but actually in Italy we say "to make the scarpetta" - fare la scarpetta - when we mop up the sauce left in the plate with a piece of bread. So, have a nice scarpetta friends!)

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