I’m not typically a fan of meatballs… you probably know this by now.
But these Polpette alla Fiorentina (which is basically a fancy way of saying meatballs with spinach) are different. These are the real deal, man. They’re like DUDE FOOD material. They’re big, they’re bold, they’re beefy and they certainly pack a serious punch.
In fact, these meatballs are so totally loaded with filling and nutritious ingredients, they’re like a complete meal in themselves. No need for a side dish!
The meatballs alone hide a generous amount of cauliflower, which greatly contributes in keeping these monster-sized meatballs super moist, tender and extra juicy. The sauce, for its part, provides the diner with a copious serving of spinach and tomatoes.
And talk about FLAVOR! Believe me, this dish seriously deliver in that department, too!
As always when making meatballs, you will first want to place all your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and knead the meat with clean hands (at least they should be clean before you shove them in the bowl, that is) until fully combined.
Unfortunately, there’s no real way to avoid getting your hands dirty here, which might be one of the contributing factors to my not really caring for meatballs.
But these Polpette are really, truly worth it. I swear.
You then want to form the meat mixture into 16 to 18 meatballs, roughly the size of a squash ball.
As always, I find that using a spring loaded ice cream scoop really helps in getting this done quickly and efficiently. Plus, these spoons they’re so much fun to use, they’ll make you forget all about the fact that your hands are sticky and yucky from handling that meat.
Now place a large and heavy skillet over medium-high heat (you might want to wash your hands first) and add a liberal amount of cooking fat to it, preferably lard or ghee. Sear the meatballs in batches, about 6 to 8 at a time, until they get nice and browned all around, about 4 to 5 minutes total.
Transfer the par-cooked meatballs to a large stockpot while you work on the rest of the meatballs.
Once all the meatballs have been seared, add the diced tomatoes, water, tomato paste and spices to the stock pot.
Bring this to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover and cook the meatballs for about an hour on a slow simmer, stirring very delicately from time to time.
After about an hour, remove the lid and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
Kill the heat, add the chopped spinach and very delicately mix it in.
Hmmmpft… you *think* perhaps my stockpot is in need of a good scrubbing? Guess, that’s what happens after nearly 15 years of regular use…
Ah! Yet another thing I need to put on my to-do list!
Cover the pot and let the dish rest for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is completely wilted.
Serve this piping hot, with a healthy dribble of extra-virgin olive oil.
And if you absolutely must have a little something extra on the side, try throwing in a handful of almond stuffed green olives, or top it with cubes of creamy avocado.
I bet this would also be fantastic served over a bed of oven baked spaghetti squash or creamy cauliflower mash.
Oh yeah… that’ll hit the spot!
Can you get a sense of how moist and juicy and tender these meatballs truly are?
Oh, how I wish you could smell and taste this, but unfortunately, I think you’re gonna have to whip up your own batch if you want to try them for yourselves.
Besides, my own Polpette alla Fiorentina is long gone. I wolfed it all down in no time. This was one of those dishes that I couldn’t get enough of and was truly happy not having to compete with anyone for the leftovers!
I got to keep them ALL to myself.
- 900g (2lb) grassfed ground beef
- 2 cups raw cauliflower, grated
- 1 small onion, diced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili pepper flakes
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Add all the ingredients for the meatballs to a large mixing bowl and knead well with clean hands to fully combine.
- Form into 16-18 meatballs, roughly the size of a squash ball (a medium sized spring loaded ice cream scoop really helps to do this quickly and efficiently).
- Place a large heavy skillet over medium high heat and add a liberal amount of cooking fat, preferably lard or ghee. Sear the meatballs in batches, about 6-8 at a time, until they get nice and browned all around, about 4-5 minutes, then transfer them to a large stockpot while you work on the rest of the meatballs.
- Once all the meatballs have been seared, add tomatoes, water, tomato paste and spices to the stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook the meatballs for about one hour on a slow simmer, stirring very delicately from time to time. Remove the lid and continue cooking for about 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Kill the heat, add the spinach and very delicately mix it in. Cover the pot and let the dish rest for 5 to 10 minutes until the spinach is completely wilted.