Meatballs, or at least some form of them have been around for as long as man has chopped and pounded meat into easy to handle portions. They are not attributable to any one country despite the fact that almost all countries claim them as their own.
Here is a small list of countries and what meatballs are called.
In Belgium Ballekes or in Flanders Bouletten
Brazil and Portugal they are called Almondegas
Germany they are known as Frikadellen Italy calls them Polpette and are relatively recent to American cooking when compared to other countries and Iranians know them as Kufteh.
- For the Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- ½ medium carrot, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 fresh basil leaves
- For the Meatballs:
- 4 ounces russet potato, peeled (about ⅓ large potato)
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound ground veal shoulder
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 4 to 6 pieces baguette, split open
- Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the bay leaf, basil and ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, 30 to 40 minutes. Season with salt.
- Meanwhile, make the meatballs: Put the potato in a small saucepan with cold water to cover; add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Cook until the potato is tender, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then coarsely grate the potato with a box grater.
- Mix the ground veal, parmesan, milk, garlic, thyme, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon pepper and 1 teaspoon salt with your hands until just combined. Gently form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
- Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the sauce and simmer 5 minutes.
- Fill the baguette pieces with the meatballs and top with more sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan.