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Polpetti & mozzarella & peppercino ficelle. Karen Martini ITALIAN MEATBALL recipes for Epicure and Good Living. Photographed by Marina Oliphant. Styling by Caroline Velik. Props this image stylist's own. Photographed September 4, 2012. The Age Newspaper and The SMH.

Photo: Marina Oliphant

The idea of a simple meatball sandwich excites me – the ooziness of the mozzarella and the spiced, tomato-enriched meatball on a fresh ficelle, a rustic baguette, is heaven. Don’t forget to add green chilli before devouring for a spike of heat.

Ingredients

  • 3 large jalapeno chillis, seeds left in, sliced into 0.5cm rings
  • 4 really fresh ficelle or baguettes
  • 3 tbsp garlic aioli, store-bought is fine
  • About eight leftover polpetti, warmed and sliced in half
  • 3 large fresh mozzarella balls, cow’s or buffalo’s milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the polpetti:
  • 80ml olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 400g fine pork mince
  • 5 Italian-style veal and pork sausages, skin removed, meat crumbled
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 50g finely grated parmesan
  • 1/4 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 350ml chicken stock
  • 1lt tomato passata
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Method

For the polpetti

In a medium frying pan over medium heat, add 30 millilitres of oil, onion and garlic. Season and cook for five minutes until soft and golden, then tip into a bowl to cool. In a food processor, add the mince, sausage meat, eggs, one tablespoon oregano, lemon zest and black pepper and blend to a paste. Add breadcrumbs and whiz again to combine. Tip into a bowl, add parmesan and parsley and mix well. Roll into small balls about the diameter of a 20¢ piece. Place a large, heavy-based pot over medium heat, add 30 millilitres of oil and brown a batch of meatballs for three minutes on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat process until all meatballs are cooked.

For the ficelle

Flash-fry chilli rings in two centimetres of olive oil for two minutes to soften slightly. Slice the ficelle or baguette open lengthways but don’t cut right through. Place on a grilling tray, spread both sides with garlic aioli, add meatballs and sauce and top with a couple of slices of mozzarella. Put under a hot grill to melt the cheese. Remove, add chilli rings to taste, season, then close and serve.

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