Pallottine di Teramo

(serves 4 | 1.5 hours | easy)

Le pallottine are teeny tiny veal meatballs from the city of Teramo, in the north of Abruzzo. It is in fact the original sauce meant to accompany spaghetti alla chitarra, which also originates from Teramo, a fact unknown to most people! Pallottine, as most polpette, were not eaten in restaurants but in private homes, as they were ways of recycling leftovers and random meat scraps. 

500g spaghetti alla chitarra (or any other long pasta) – 60g grated parmigiano or pecorino – nutmeg, to taste – 1 garlic clove – ½ an onion – 500g passata – 40g crustless bread – milk – sugar – salt and pepper – extra virgin olive oil – 300g minced veal

  1. Dice the onion finely and place it in a skillet along with the crushed garlic clove and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Sautè gently until the onion has softened, then pour in the passata, season to taste and add a tablespoon of sugar. Let it simmer for 30 minutes, covered. 
  2. For the meatballs, place the minced veal into a bowl and add the grated cheese. Let the bread soak in a few lugs of milk for ten minutes, then squeeze well to remove the excess milk and place in the bowl with the minced meat. Add salt and pepper to taste, a sprinkle of nutmeg and combine everything with your hands until you have a homogeneous mound of meat. 
  3. Begin shaping the meatballs, which must not be bigger than an olive, and set to one side. 
  4. Heat a few lugs of olive oil in a skillet and add a handful of meatballs, moving the pan often so they cook through properly. Once the batch is nice and crispy, place them in a bowl and cook another handful of meatballs. Once you’ve cooked them all, place half the sauce you made previously into the skillet and then dunk in all the meatballs, mixing well. 
  5. Bring a pot of water to boil, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, keeping some cooking water on the side, then mix the pasta into the tomato sauce (the one without meatballs). Place in a large serving dish and top with the pallotte and their tomato sauce. Serve and top with as much parmigiano and pepper as you desire.