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Sometimes, I miss my mother so much (she passed away two years ago), and when that happens, I always try to cook some of the dishes she used to make. My mother was originally from a small town near the beautiful city of Bergamo, situated in the middle of Lombardy, but her mother was Milanese. She was born in 1934 when food was scarce, and nothing was ever thrown away.

All this is to say that tonight, I will cook the so-called “Mondeghili” the typical Milanese meatballs made with leftover meat cooked the day before. It is a typical local dish that reminds me so much of my childhood, and especially of my mother.

Very likely, the origin of the dish name dates from the time when the Duchy of Milan and most of Lombardy were under the Spanish domain (XVI century A.D): the word derives from the alteration of the Spanish term Albondeguila, or “meatball”, which derives from the Arabic word Al-bunduq that stands for “the hazelnut”.

Here is my recipe with ingredients for four people:

  • 300 g of leftover boiled or braised meat
  • 80 g of mortadella
  • 130 g Stale bread crumb
  • 80 g of milk
  • 20 g of Italian DOP parmesan cheese (do not trust faked parmesan. The packaging must mention the acronym DOP, which declares its originality)
  • 1 egg
  • 5 g of parsley
  • a pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg
  • a grated lemon peel (it is not mandatory)


Soak the stale bread crumb in milk, squeeze, and put it in a bowl. Add chopped parsley, the grated lemon peel (if you wish), and a pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Add the previously chopped leftover meat and the chopped mortadella. Combine with egg and parmesan. Finally, mold the mixture into meatballs.  The Mondeghili are not round shaped, they must have a look similar to a small burger patty. Then coat the Mondeghilis in breadcrumbs and fry in butter, as is customary in Milan. I sometimes fry them in sunflower oil, and since this dish is based on leftover food, there are several possible variations in the ingredient list.

Enjoy your Mondeghili!



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