I love this dish by chef Massimo Bruno and the Italian name for them but something is lost in translation by calling them ‘egg balls!’
I had some friends coming over after work for a glass of wine and thought this looked easy enough to pull together without a lot of advance preparation or shopping. I had first considered digging out my little frying machine (with some dread) but I decided to try making them on the stovetop and they fried just perfectly in a large skillet.
They look as beautiful as they taste and this quick appetizer was perfect for a last minute phone call and the announcement friends were coming over with wine!
Makes approximately 10-12 individual balls; enough to serve four people as an appetizer although I could have very easily done this for myself and my daughter and called it dinner!
Massimo Bruno’s Popette D’uova
Light mounds of fluffy egg and bread crumbs are topped with tomato sauce and cheese; a wonderful appetizer or even main course if going meatless.
For the Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 can of peeled tomatoes
- 1/4 cup fresh Basil
For the Egg Popettes
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1/2 to 1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Chopped parsley - up to 1/4 cup
- Sea salt
- Oil for frying (I used canola)
- Prepare the sauce so it can cook while you make the egg popettes. Blend the tomatoes in a food processor.
- Gently heat the olive oil in a sauce pan and add the garlic and cook until very light golden brown.
- Add the tomatoes plus enough water to rinse the container, than add the basil and some sea salt and let it cook for 30 minutes. You want to have a very liquid sauce because they will absorb the liquid as they cook in it.
- Beat the eggs and slowly add the cheese first, then the bread crumbs, the parsley, the baking soda, the sea salt and beat all together. You should have a semisolid consistency so add bread crumbs and cheese until you can form the mixture into balls.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, deep enough to cook them halfway up their height; the oil is ready when you splash a little flour in it and it drizzles. It's important to be hot enough or the popettes will absorb the oil.
- Gently put them into the hot oil; turning them over when they’re lightly brown, about a minute per side. Drain thoroughly on paper towels.
- Put them in the sauce and let them cook for another half hour to absorb the liquid; you might have to add additional water as there should be some sauce left in the pan to serve them with.
- Serve on small plates and garnish with additional cheese.
In a hurry one night to make these for last minute company; I did what I would call a 'Sandra Lee' and used a jar of good sauce already seasoned with garlic and basil that I had in the pantry.
I warmed it, added some fresh basil (easy cause I grow it in the summer) and some additional water and then finished the dish per instructions. I can not say I could discern a difference...and in truth is what I'll do more often.