If I think of the first dish I learned to cook from my mother pallotte cacio e uova – cheese and egg balls – is probably what comes to my mind first. As a child I often refused to try myself at cooking so mom used to say You will never be a true Abruzzese woman if you can’t make pallotte! leaving me speachless, quite angry and simply unsure of what she really meant me to become.
Fridays were indeed the worst days to me: she went to the village market looking for the best cheeses, when she came home I could recognize her light happy step. That meant just one thing to me: endless tons of pallotte to prepare for the whole family.
While I snorted, she devoted herself to long (and exhausting) dissertations on how to choose the best ingredients, mix them passionately, challenge the frying pan and make perfectly round golden balls that I would have literally drowned in the sauce, wishing them not to resurrect anymore.
I still feel guilty for that sacrilegious gesture, only later in my life I clearly realized how my mother’s patient yet relentless work was forging me so deeply while making pallotte. I thought of this post to pay a tribute to the greatest woman in my life, whom I will love and admire until I die.
5 fresh eggs | 400 gr (= 0.88 lb) of grated cheese, mixed cow and sheep including some grana padano and rigatino cheese | 100 gr (= 3.53 oz) of bread crumbs | 1 clove of garlic | 1 bunch of parsley | extra virgin olive oil
For the sauce:
1 liter of tomato sauce | 2 cloves of raw garlic | 1 green pepper | 2 leaves of parsley | 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil | Salt as needed
This recipe was a typical example of Abruzzo’s cucina povera (poor man’s cuisine) as a way to use up leftover bits of cheese and stale bread. Eggs, cheese and bread crumbs are mixed together, shaped into pallotte (balls) and fried, then simmered in the tomato sauce. Parsley is optional but I always use it. As they simmer, the pallotte absorb the flavor of the sauce actually tasting like ‘real’ meatballs. Pallotte are a perfect example of how the poor in Italy would take simple, humble ingredients that other might discard and then turn them into something incredibly tasty.
Beat eggs in a bowl, add the grated cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic and chopped parsley. Gather together trying to make a dough, form balls (pallotte) of medium size. Fry them in hot olive oil until they get golden.
For the sauce: the tomato sauce should be very simply cooked, I usually combine all the ingredients into the tomato puree and cook together for about 30-40 minutes. Once the sauce is ready, remove the two cloves of garlic and salt as required. Add the cheese balls and cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes. Serve hot garnished with basil leaves.
PS: every time I make pallotte, I find myself smiling because of your words. I hope to become a true Abruzzese woman, love you so much mom!
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Have you ever tried to cook the cheese balls by placing them straight into the sauce to simmer – without frying before hand? I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Abruzzo and one of the locals who introduced me to them (although very secretive and coy with her recipes) – told me she places the cheese balls straight into the sauce.
Hello Michael, yes that’s another way to cook pallotte straight into the sauce without frying! They become softer and more delicate, though I prefer the fried version. You were lucky to spend time in Abruzzo and I hope you loved it, and yes some people are very secretive and not willing to share their recipes but that’s how we abruzzesi are (sometimes). Thanks for stopping by!
I tried these for my birthday on January 8, and they were divine. I must make them again. If I make a larger batch, can they be frozen and reheated?
Hi Cheryl, thanks for stopping by! Lovely to hear that you were able to make pallotte and yes they can be frozen and reheated when necessary (I use microwave oven for that). Of course if you prepare them fresh to be eaten they taste delicious however it’s good to have some stock in the fridge.
Cheers from locked down Italy!
OMG !!! THESE are absolutely phenomenal! Thank you so much! That’s what we (from Agnone) call them too,
le Pallotte Cacce & Uova. So easy, fluffy and delicious!
Hello Lina! Pallotte are one of my favorite foods, so simple and delicious, I especially love dipping the bread into the sauce. Thanks for stopping by