PictureDelicious cooked Polpettes.
It's not really Italian for Delicious, but it should be.  My Grandma Brumley (dad's mom) pronounced them "peh-PEH-tees."  Even though "polpette" is "meatball," I don't think of these as meatballs.  It's probably because they were only and ever called polpettes, and my Grandmother formed them into oval patties instead of balls.  My Grandmother was an amazing little Italian woman, but the extent of the exposure I had to my Italian roots is this recipe and the memory of my Grandmother speaking Italian to a friend.  Once.  And the unibrow, but we won't talk about that.  Grandma made these every time we visited, so memories of food at her house are filled with the smell and taste of polpettes.  I can remember the way the mix smells before it's cooked, the smell of them cooking permeating the house, and the delicious little patties.  I'd lightly salt mine and then gobble them up. 
When I was little, my mother asked Grandma for the recipe.  She planely told Mom there wasn't one.  Mom doesn't give up though, she followed Grandma around as she made them and wrote down everything that went into these delightful treats.  She did this twice, and the ingredients are the same, but the quantities are different.  ... because there's no recipe.  My Grandmother passed away in 2003 and I find myself making these when I miss her, or when I long for those childhood summers spent with Dad's family, or whenever I just crave them.  
I can't bring myself to make any changes to the "recipe" even though I tweak EVERY recipe I get my hands on.  Something about making changes doesn't sit well, it's like a horrific insult to my Grandmother and her memory even though I can look at the recipe and think of a hundred things that can be changed or tweaked.  Even though, I'm sure she's made changes over the years depending on what ingredients were and were not available.  I. Just. Can't. Do. It. So I don't.  I'll just honor her (and my childhood memories) in my own way by staying true to what I know to be how she used to make polpettes when I was a kid.  If I make something similar, they'll be "meatballs" ... so in my mind, something completely different and I realize it's totally silly and I'm OK with that.  :-)

Polpettes (aka.  Pepeties)

Ingredients
Version 1
1 lb. ground beef
1 16 oz. box of Saltines, crushed
8 to 10 eggs
1 sm. can Kraft Parmesan Cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
salt and pepper to taste
Version 2
2 lb. ground beef
1 16 oz. box of Saltines, crushed
18 eggs
6 oz. Kraft Parmesan Cheese
10 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks celery, finely diced
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Directions
Combine ground beef, 3 of the 4 sleeves of crushed crackers, 3/4 of the eggs, parmesan, garlic, celery, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.  Mix by hand to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients.  If the mixture is too dry/hard, add eggs one at a time to moisten the mixture.  If it is too wet, add more Saltines a little at a time.  The mix should be about the consistency of a meatloaf or slightly softer/moister than plain hand-formed hamburgers.
Place a large skillet on the stove at medium-high heat.  Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan with about 1/8" of oil.  Let oil heat until you see ripples before adding the polpettes for frying.
While oil is heating, form oval shaped patties using about 1/2 cup of the mixture (no larger than a lemon before forming patties).
PictureFrying polpettes with foaming oil.
Once oil is heated, add patties to the oil.  The oil should bubble when the polpette is added and will end up foaming up as the patties cook (see photo to the left).  Cook about 3-6 minutes on each side (depends on how thick the patties are) until beautifully browned on both sides and cooked through.  Remove from pan to a plate with paper towels to drain excess oil.  As you cook more polpettes, you will need to add a little more oil to the pan as the patties will absorb some oil as they fry.
We always ate these plain, but I have served them along side pasta and with a salad as well.  They're a great hearty snack or a lunch on the go.  They refrigerate and reheat well either in the microwave or oven, though the oven is better in my opinion.  Raw polpettes can also be frozen with wax paper between layers and can be stored for at least 6 months - I imagine they'd store longer, but that's just a theory in my house.  Any frozen polpettes are lucky to last 3 months in my house.

Picture
Grandma Brumley outside the family store.
 
 
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One of the few veggies I like is zucchini.  And by like, I mean breaded, deep fried, and served with Ranch dressing or tzatziki.  I stumbled across a recipe for "zucchini cakes" and figured I'd give them a try.  I made my own edits to the recipe - it's what I do.  I love these patties.  I eat them with Ranch dressing, but they're also a great compliment to pasta with tomato sauce.  I think they would make a great vegetarian "meatball" to serve with spaghetti.  My version of the recipe is below.  If you want to go the "meatball" rather than the patty route, simply form the mix into 1-inch balls instead.
I'm usually a stickler for using genuine Parmigiano Reggiano, but it's expensive.  In this recipe it would make very little difference in taste if you use the real stuff, the pre-grated Parm from the deli, or the Kraft Parm in the green canisters so it's not really necessary to spend the money if you don't have to.

Zucchini Parmesan Patties
Ingredients

2 large zucchini, grated, excess water removed*
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp Season All
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves garlic, minced)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2-3 eggs
Olive Oil

Directions
1. Grating the zucchini by hand is easy and goes very quickly.  Once grated, lay out a dish towel, place two layers of paper towels on top of the dish towel, then place the grated zucchini in the middle.  Wrap the towel around the zucchini either like a pouch or like a hard candy wrapper and squeeze as much water out of the zucchini as possible.
2. Add the zucchini to a large mixing bowl along with all other ingredients except the eggs and olive oil.  Lightly mix the ingredients, and add two eggs.  Mix by hand until eggs are completely incorporated.  Form a patty with about two tablespoons of mix and see if it will hold together.  If the mix is too loose, add and mix in the third egg.  Form patties about 1/4-1/2 of an inch thick.
3. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil.  Let the oil heat until you start seeing ripples/dimples in the surface of the oil.   Place patties in pan and cook 3-5 minutes on each side until they are nice and brown.  You may need to add more oil as you remove and add more patties.  Try to let the oil heat up before adding new patties to the pan.
4. Once patties are cooked, drain on a plate covered with paper towels (1-3 layers).  Serve with your favorite pasta or Ranch dressing.

Left Overs!
So what do you do with these guys after they've sat in the fridge?  They taste fine if they're microwaved, but they lose that wonderful crisp from frying.  They can be reheated in the oven to reclaim some of the fried texture.  Just place a rack on a cookie sheet, then put your patties on the rack.  Bake them at 350 for about 12 minutes to get them nice and hot.