When I went to Florence Italy with my husband, 3 year old daughter and my parents in 2016 I completely fell in love with the city and surrounding countryside. The food is outstanding! The city is the perfect size to explore and get aquatinted. I highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Italy. The Christmas after I gave my parents a beautiful cookbook 'Florentine' which I bought from Barbara Jo Cookbooks in Vancouver (sadly, its no longer open). I noticed when I visited a few times that they hadn't cooked from it yet, so in true only child fashion, I took it home and added it to my collection.
I have made half a dozen recipes from this gorgeous book and they have all been insanely delicious. This meatball recipe is one that I adapted from a meatloaf recipe in the book 'Polpettone alla Fiorentina' which translates to Florentine Meatloaf. The tomato sauce that simmers with the meatballs is incredible!
The Most Delicious Florentine Meatballs & Sauce
400 g grass fed ground beef
100 g prosciutto, finely chopped
40 g parmesan cheese, grated
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of ground fennel seeds
organic all purpose flour for dusting
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
a pinch of salt
400 g tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)
2 fresh bay leaves
1 rosemary sprig
tuscan bread (or other crusty bread) to serve
In a wide bowl, combine the beef, prosciutto, cheese, egg, nutmeg, fennel seeds and season generously with salt and pepper. Portion and shape into 1 1/2 inch meatballs, place on a parchment lined plate or tray, covered in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Dust the meatballs evenly in a light coating of flour. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat and sear the meatballs to brown on all sides, turning carefully. With the meatballs still in the pan, turn the heat down to low, move the meatballs to the edges of the pan to create room in the center and add the celery, carrot, onion and salt. Cook gently, stirring every so often until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
Mix the tomato passata and 200 ml water and add to the pan as well as the herbs, and season again with salt and pepper. Let it simmer, covered, for 50 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened slightly, at least 10 more minutes. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprig before serving.
Serve the meatballs with a generous dollop of the sauce over the top and with crusty bread.
I hope you enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Emiko Davies Florentine
buy the book here