Vrasciole Recipe (Calabrian Fried Meatballs)
Vrasciole (Calabrian fried meatballs) are another delicious, incredible food that hails from Calabria, south Italy. As we’ve said before, Calabria is famous for its coast and seafood but it also has a large mountainous region.
The mountains are full of very happy, healthy cows that roam freely through the countryside. They occasionally cross the road alone or in small groups, it’s the most traffic you’ll see for miles. The beef in Calabria primarily comes from these cows.
What are Vrasciole?
Vrasciole are Calabrian fried meatballs. They are approximately 2 1/2″ long x 1″ wide x 1″ tall. Basically, a very long and narrow meatball but fried and way better than regular old round meatballs. They’re made with ground beef, finely grated pecorino romano, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Then fried in olive oil.
When to Make & Eat Vrasciole
Vrasciole are usually made on Sundays for lunch, the biggest meal of the week. In Italy Sundays are reserved for family and eating, so you better be at the table at 1 pm sharp especially if nonna is making her famous fried meatballs. Vrasciole take time to make so Sunday is the perfect day since there’s no rush. The ingredients are simple and mixing is easy, but you want to let the meat rest for the flavors to combine.
If you’re in a rush don’t make Vrasciole. They won’t turn out properly and you’ll be disappointed when the meat doesn’t hold together. When Giuseppe or his mom makes these they don’t measure. They add everything to a bowl and more of one ingredient or another based on the texture of the meat mixture. This dish takes time, practice, and most importantly, love.
Giuseppe’s mom often makes ‘Vrasciole’ that are round and flat (sort of disc-like). This is how she’s always made them. In other parts of Calabria you may find different shapes or sizes, but the shape described today is most typical to the region.
How to Cook Vrasciole
Traditional Vrasciole are always fried. *Shocking*. Calabrians love fried food, so it’s no surprise they decided to fry their signature meatballs as well. We break from tradition in this recipe because we prefer to bake the Vrasciole. Why? It’s less work and the house doesn’t smell like fried food. But it does smell like delicious roasting meatballs!
- 1/2 cup AVUS olive oil (+ oil for frying)
- 3 cloves finely chopped garlic or 3/4 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp freshly grated black pepper
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano
- 10 stems finely chopped parsley
- 7 oz. (200g) breadcrumbs
- 1lb ground beef
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) water
- In a large bowl add ground beef, garlic, pecorino romano, egg, salt, pepper, and parsley.
- In a small bowl or cup mix breadcrumbs and water together.
- Add wet breadcrumbs to meat and mix everything together for approx. 10 minutes or until everything is fully incorporated.
- Cover and let sit for 45 mins – 2 hours.
- Traditional Vrasciole are always fried. However, we love to bake them. Shape meat into into long meatballs (2 1/2″ long x 1″ wide x 1″ tall).
- For frying: heat a wide pan with approx. 1/2″ – 3/4″ of olive oil on medium-low or medium heat. Do not heat on high, the oil will burn. Test oil is hot with a sprinkle of flour. Add meatballs to oil and cook until brown.
- For baking: preheat oven to 425F. Prepare a large baking sheet, add oil and ensure entire entire tray is covered by spreading the olive oil with your fingers or a brush. Add meatballs to tray and cook in oven for approx. 40 minutes or until brown.
- Serve immediately!