Today’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.
The first food item to pop in my head was the chicken thingie Mom made. It was always served with the cheddar and cream of mushroom potato stuff. The best memory of this particular dish was that Mom purposefully did not tell me what the chicken was made with until after I told her how incredible it was. I was a teenager when she surprised me with that delectable dish for the first time. She knew my being a teenager easily meant I would not try it. If I knew the truth. She was correct. I loved it and I still making that chicken thingie today. Always with the cheddar mushroom potatoes and fresh green beans.
Growing up, my Moms specialty was meatballs and sauce. Although far from Italian she cooked like she was fresh off the boat from Sicily. I say meatballs and sauce, not spaghetti and meatballs. It is the meatballs I need to focus on. I still do not know how she did it, but hers were the best. I’m sorry that is a lie. I do know how she did it. Eventually when I was a bit older, she told me her secrets. I will share a few of the more important ones here.
At one point there was a recipe for these meatballs. That has long since vanished. The recipe is embedded in my brain now. A pound of this, a bunch of that, 2 of those, and your hands, always use your hands. I still chuckle today when I recall Moms response to “what spices do I use?” “whatever you have in the cabinet that looks, sounds, or smells Italian.” She would reply with a sly smirk. The most important spice of all wasn’t even a spice. Fresh, hot Italian sausage. Raw, fresh Hot Italian sausage. There is no baking involved in this recipe. The simmering sauce cooks it all. You need the spice of the sausage to flavor the meatballs and sauce properly. Yes it does take all day, but in the end is so worth it.
Today I continue with meatball and sauce day. On those days, every burner on the stove is occupied by a pan of simmering meatballs. I get so dirty and it is such a big undertaking that whole days are reserved for meatball day. As a young child, I would wake up dreaming of Mom’s meatballs. Only to find she was in the middle of making them. The smell was so great and powerful it permeated my dreams.
Mom taught me the basics of meatball making. My husband is fine tuning my skills. I was unaware there was more than one way to mix with your hands. Apparently I was scrunching when I should have been folding the meat. Apparently, it makes a difference in the ending density of the meatball. I’ve been making these for my husband for over 20 years and he is just now helping me improve on what started with my Mom. That is so like him.
There are only guidelines when making this favorite. The one true law that must always be adhered to is, make enough for the freezer and the neighbors. One pot of meatballs is not enough. 2 is better, but 3 is the balls.