October 21 2019
My new-found food love is the humble meatball. And, I'm guessing that I'm not the only one who loves this comfort food...restaurants have popped up all over Phoenix featuring this wonderful dish!
There are so many versions and ingredients that can go into creating the perfect meatball. Of course, there is the traditional Italian meatball that we are all familiar with, but how about sweet glazed chicken meatballs? Or how about lamb meatballs with cumin and mint? Can't forget the slow-cooker version either...
However you like your meatballs, you MUST try this version of Meatball Parmesan. The sauce is delish and the meatballs are moist and tasty as ever! I have used ricotta cheese to add lightness and I've combined ground beef, veal and pork for added flavor. If you don't care for one of those meats, feel free to substitute more of one of the others.
Sauce (see Chef’s Note):
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dry oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 26-ounce containers diced tomatoes, preferably Pomi brand
1 tbsp olive oil
8 ounces ground pork
6 ounces 80% lean ground beef
6 ounces ground veal
1 cup coarse fresh white breadcrumbs
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
2 large eggs
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 1/2 tsp dry oregano
1/2 tsp fennel seed, freshly ground
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Make the Sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-duty 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, oregano, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft, 6-10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce has reduced by about a third, about 40 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season to taste with salt. Keep warm, covered. (The sauce can also be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for 1 month.)
Make the Meatballs:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Coat the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch baking dish with the olive oil. Set aside.
Combine the ground meats, breadcrumbs, ricotta, eggs, parsley, oregano, fennel seed, red pepper flakes, and 2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Mix gently but thoroughly with your hands.
Divide the meat into 16 golf ball-size portions using a 2-ounce, 2-inch diameter ice cream scoop or your hands. Arrange the balls snugly in the baking dish.
Bake the meatballs until they register about 90°F on an instant-read thermometer and are firm to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes. (If you’ve made the tomato sauce ahead and refrigerated it, heat it while the meatballs are cooking.)
Remove the meatballs from the oven and drain excess fat, if there is any, from the pan. Ladle the sauce over them, then top with mozzarella. Sprinkle the Parmesan over and return them to the oven and continue to bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into one meatball reads 165°F, about another 15 minutes.
This dish can be made ahead and then reheated in the oven. It can also be frozen for a quick dinner!
Chef’s Note: This recipe makes double the amount of sauce that you will need. Use it for pasta or freeze for another time.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
If so, take a quick photo of it & tag @francine.coles on Instagram.
I’d love to see your pics!