Bacari meatballs and young roast carrots

Venetian Bacari Meatballs

The Venice bar snack version of Meatballs. These meatballs are smaller and fried, made to snack on while sipping a refreshing glass of wine. Or can be used as a main course for a lighter meal as pictured above with roasted young carrots.

Exploration of this sub-topic of Italian polpette reveals that these meatballs certainly fit the traditional purpose of meatballs, that is to use what is in the refrigerator, wasting nothing. The major difference in these meatballs is the introduction of mashed potatoes, making them a lighter snack. Pretty much any kind of meat will work. In Venice fresh fish is often used. For those of us where fresh fish is more of a delicacy, canned tuna even works.

Not to make this too involved but a mix of about two parts meat to one part potato is a good starting point. From there other flavor attributes can be added to taste. Full recipes for a beef version and the tuna version are below. But the following suggestions offer some of the many alternatives.

BeefBeef/Pork/Veal CombinationTuna/Cod or other Fish
Beef 450g / Potato 225gCombined meats 450g / Potato 225gTuna 200g / Potato 250g
2 slices dried bread2 slices dried bread1 slice dried bread
2 eggs2 eggs1 egg
50g Parmesan50g Parmesan
1 clove garlicparsley parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary

Notice the beef recipe below includes garlic. This is actually unusual for Italian meatballs, but since they are intended as a bar snack, they do benefit from the additional pop.

tuna meatballs on table cloth

Bacari Meatballs - Beef

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 450 g ground beef
  • 225 g boiling potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 thick slices dry bread, crusty Italian or French, (see note 1)
  • milk, as necessary to soak the bread
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 50 g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • ½ sprig rosemary, fresh chopped -- about 2 tbsp
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 250 ml bread crumbs, very fine
  • 25 ml vegetable oil, for frying use more if needed to coat bottom of pan

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan add potatoes and cover with cold water. Boil until tender.
  2. While potatoes are cooking. Soak the dried bread in a small bowl covered with just enough milk. Let it absorb for about 5 to 10 minutes. The resting time is more necessary if the crust is used.
  3. Drain the potatoes as soon as tender. Peel while still hot and mash completely through a food mill/ricer or by using a fork if necessary. The potatoes should not have chunks. Add tuna, bread-milk mixture (Discard extra milk, if necessary). Mix gently till homogenous.
  4. Roll mixture into small balls -- approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch). Set on platter.
  5. In a small bowl beat the egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Spread flour on one plate and fine bread crumbs on another. Add oil to saucepan, approximately 1 cm (½ inch deep), heat oil for frying. Fry the meatballs by first rolling in flour, then dipping in egg mixture, then rolling in fine bread crumbs. Last gently place meatballs in oil to fry. Turn as needed to fry evenly brown all over. About 4 minutes. Work in batches until all meatballs are cooked.
  6. As meatballs are done, remove to wire rack or paper towels to allow to drain extra oil. Serve immediately or cooled to room temperature.  Sprinkle extra parsley on top, if desired.

Notes

Note 1:

Whether to include the crust is a matter of personal choice. Many prefer a finer texture to the final product and remove the crust. I include the crust and process in a food processor. This gives a hardier texture.

Adapted from: Marcella Hazan

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 693Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 209mgSodium: 868mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 47g

The tuna (or any available fish) version does not include an egg in the mixture for the meatball, therefore more potato is used. Egg is used for the coating.

bowl of tuna meatballs

Barcari Meatballs -- tuna

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

These meatballs just beg for a cold, crisp glass of Italian white wine.

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 200 g Canned tuna in olive oil, Drained (see note 1)
  • 200 g potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 thick slice dry bread, crusty Italian or French (see note 2)
  • milk, as necessary to soak the bread
  • olive oil
  • 1 sprig parsley, freshly chopped, fresh chopped
  • salt
  • pepper, (see note 3)
  • flour, for coating
  • bread crumbs, very fine, From about two slices.
  • 25 ml vegetable oil for frying. Use more, if needed.

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan add potatoes and cover with cold water. Boil until tender.
  2. While potatoes are cooking. Soak the dried bread in a small bowl covered with just enough milk. Let it absorb for about 5 to 10 minutes. The resting time is more necessary if the crust is used.
  3. Drain the potatoes as soon as tender. Peel while still hot and mash completely through a food mill/ricer or by using a fork if necessary. The potatoes should not have chunks. Add tuna, bread-milk mixture (Discard extra milk, if necessary). Mix gently till homogenous.
  4. Roll mixture into small balls -- approximately 2.5 cm (1 inch). Set on a platter.
  5. In a small bowl beat the egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Spread flour on one plate and fine bread crumbs on another. Add oil to a saucepan, approximately 1 cm (½ inch deep), heat oil for frying. Fry the meatballs by first rolling in flour, then dipping in egg mixture, then rolling in fine bread crumbs. Gently place meatballs in oil to fry. Turn as needed to fry evenly brown all over. About 4 minutes. Work in batches until all meatballs are cooked.
  6. As meatballs are done, remove to a wire rack or paper towels to allow to drain extra oil. Serve immediately or cooled to room temperature. Sprinkle extra parsley on top, if desired.

Notes

Note 1:  This recipe calls for canned Italian tuna. Available packed in olive oil and usually 200g. If this is not available two 3 oz (85g) cans can be used in place. Add olive oil for taste. Of course, fresh tuna could also be used.

Drain excess olive oil.  If using tuna canned in water, drain water well then add a little olive oil for texture and flavor.

Note 3:  Grind pepper fairly coarsely, to give the snacks "a pop".

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 435Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 560mgCarbohydrates: 55gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 23g

Do something awesome. Tell a friend:

jz

View posts by jz
Analytics professional for 30+ years and avid cook. Passionate about bringing the two interests together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top