Danilo Cortellini, Head Chef at The Italian Embassy in London shares his recipe. Traditional from my birthplace Abruzzo in central Italy, it makes great use of stale bread and hard cheese. Essentially a meatball without meat. It shows how Italians were able to make use of humble leftovers and turn them into tasty dishes.
Cooking Time: 30 mins
300 g of grated pecorino cheese
200 g of bread (crust removed)
1 garlic clove (chopped)
1 small bunch of fresh basil
1 small bunch of fresh parsley
1 red pepper
1 litre of vegetable oil (for frying)
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
200 g of tomato sauce
100 ml of milk (optional)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Take the crustless bread and chop roughly into small cubes. If the bread is too dry, soak it in milk, and squeeze the excess liquid before creating the balls.
Mix the chopped bread with chopped parsley, garlic, 4 eggs and pecorino cheese.
Do not add too much salt, as pecorino cheese is already salty. Mix and knead well by hands until smooth. Create small balls. Traditionally, they should not be larger than 3 cm.
As an accompaniment, chop the pepper, roast them with oil and a pinch of salt and add it to the tomato sauce.
Heat the vegetable oil, ready to fry the cheese balls. The balls should be fried for 2-3 minutes until well golden, at a temperature of 160 degrees. Drain the balls from the oil, and dry on kitchen paper.
Spread a generous spoonful of tomato sauce with pepper on the centre of the plate. Gently place the cheese balls on the top.
Garnish with extra cheese if desired and a fresh Basil leaf. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on the top, and serve.
About Danilo Cortellini
Having spent almost twenty years in the hospitality business, Danilo has worked in some of the finest restaurants across Italy and London currently holds the position of Head Chef at the Italian Embassy in London.
Also founder of Danilo Cortellini Ltd, a food, drink and restaurant consultancy company and TIRAMISOO EVENTS, my London based catering and events company.