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Veal, beef, and pork meatballs with ricotta filling

January 9, 2008

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Serves 8

You need 3 cups of the tomato sauce to make the meatballs, and the recipes makes between 5 and 6 cups. Store unused sauce in the freezer for another dish. These meatballs are quite large.

SAUCE

2 shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cans (28 ounces each) whole plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Pinch of crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup water

1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt, black pepper, red pepper, and water. Turn the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally with a spoon to break up the tomatoes, for 30 minutes.

2. Turn the heat to medium and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.

MEATBALLS

3cups cubed crustless Italian bread
1pound ground veal
1pound ground beef
1pound ground pork
1egg
1/2onion, chopped
1/4cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4cup chopped fresh basil
Pinch of dried oregano
1 1/2cups grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
2cups tomato sauce (see above)
2cups water

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Rub the bread cubes under water and gently squeeze out the excess liquid. Put the bread into a large bowl. Add the veal, beef, pork, egg, onion, parsley, basil, oregano, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Work the mixture with your hands. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions. Roll each into a large round meatball, about the size of an apple. Place the meatballs in a large baking dish that holds them without touching.

2. In another bowl, combine 2 cups of the tomato sauce with the water. Spoon this mixture over the meatballs until the liquid comes three-quarters of the way up the sides of the rounds. Add more water if necessary. Cover the dish with foil.

3. Bake the meatballs for 1 hour, turning the dish halfway through cooking. Remove it from the oven, drain and discard the liquid in the dish, and let the meatballs cool to room temperature.

TO FINISH

1 1/2cups ricotta cheese
3/4cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2teaspoons salt
Pepper, to taste
1cup tomato sauce (see above)

1. In a bowl, combine 1 cup of the ricotta cheese with 1/2 cup Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Using an apple corer or small knife, core out 1/2-inch-wide holes in the bottom of the meatballs. Fill the hole with some of the ricotta mixture.

2. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

3. Spoon the tomato sauce over the meatballs. Bake them for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are hot. Remove the pan from the oven. Place 1 tablespoon of the remaining 1/2 cup ricotta cheese on top of each meatball (so it looks like the cheese is oozing out of the center). Sprinkle with some of the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Heat for an additional 3 minutes. - Adapted from "A Man & His Meatballs"

Notes: