Author Topic: Italian Eggplant Balls (Pitticelle di Murignani) with Variations  (Read 56 times)

Olga Drozd

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Italian Eggplant Balls (Pitticelle di Murignani) with Variations
« on: November 09, 2017, 04:14:17 PM »
Italian Eggplant Balls (Pitticelle di Murignani)

In Southern Italy meat was quite scarce, so cooks invented dishes using eggplant and other vegetables.  Pitticelle di Murignani come from Calabria, the point of Italy's boot.

NOTE:  Eggplants have male and female gender, and the males are preferable since they have fewer seeds and are less bitter in taste.  To tell a male from a female, look at the stem end.  The male is rounded and has a more even hole, and the female hole is indented.

Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours.

3 (1-pound each) eggplants
2 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, divided
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano OR 2 teaspoons dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 cups vegetable oil for frying

FOR DIPPING:

1 cup Herbed Tomato Sauce (recipe follows) Or purchased marinara sauce, heated

Preheat the oven to 450 F. and line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil.  Prick eggplants with a meat fork, and bake for 20 minutes.  Turn eggplants over and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until eggplants are totally tender.  Remove the pan from the oven, and cut eggplants in half.  When cool enough to handle, scrape pulp away from skin, and puree in a food processor, adding juices that have accumulated in the pan.  Scrape eggplant into a mixing bowl.

Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl, and add eggplant puree, cheese, and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Add more breadcrumbs, if necessary, to form a cohesive dough.

Place remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl.  Make mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls, roll balls in breadcrumbs, and repeat until all of eggplant mixture is used.

Heat oil in a deep sided saucepan or deep fryer to a temperature of 375 degrees F.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with paper towels, to keep cooked eggplant balls warm.

Add eggplant balls, being careful not to crowd the pan.  Cook eggplant balls for 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned.  Remove eggplant balls from the pan with a slotted spoon, and drain well on paper towel-lined baking sheet.  Keep fried eggplant balls warm in the oven while frying remaining balls.  Serve immediately, accompanied by a bowl of Herbed Tomato Sauce for dipping. Serve as a appetizer or with a salad as a main course. Serves 4 to 6.

NOTE: The eggplant balls can be prepared for frying up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered.  They can also be fried in advance; reheat them in a 400 degrees F. oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until hot and crusty again.

VARIATIONS:


For SICILIAN eggplant balls, add 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and 1/2 cup dried currants (soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and then drained) to the eggplant mixture.

For NEAPOLITAN eggplant balls, add 1/2 cup chopped pitted green or black olives to the eggplant mixture.

HERBED TOMATO SAUCE:

Here is a good basic tomato sauce to have in your repertoire.  Add other herbs, spices, and flavourings as you wish.

Start to finish: 1 hour

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano OR 2 teaspoons dried
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme OR 1 teaspoon dried
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a 2 quart heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, or until onion is translucent.

Add carrot, celery, tomatoes, wine, parsley, oregano, thyme and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes, or until lightly thickened.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

NOTE:  The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, or frozen up to 3 months.  Makes 2 cups.

VARIATIONS:

 Add basil, rosemary, or marjoram along with or instead of some of the herbs listed.

Add 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to make the sauce spicier.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 04:21:06 PM by Olga Drozd »