Italian meatballs with ground pork shoulder, Italian sausage, bread, ricotta cheese, eggs, and herbs, in a simple tomato sauce with basil and Parmesan.
If fresh basil is not available, add a tablespoon of dried basil to the tomatoes before adding to the meatballs. Alternatively, Muir Glen makes a canned tomato with basil in it which would also work.
- 10 ounces ground pork shoulder
- 10 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
- 2 ounces prosciutto or pancetta, minced (helps to put in freezer for 15 min first, before mincing, will make it easier to cut)
- 4 cups cubed white bread, crusts removed first.
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2/3 cup ricotta cheese
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- Olive oil
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (high quality, either San Marzano or Muir Glen)
- 1/4 cup chiffonaded* fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* to chiffonade basil leaves, stack leaves on top of each other, then roll up leaves lengthwise like a cigar, slice thinly starting at the end.
1 In a large bowl, add the pork, Italian sausage, prosciutto or pancetta, bread cubes, parsley, oregano, fennel, red pepper flakes, and salt. Use your hands to mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Do not over-work.
2 Whisk the beaten eggs and ricotta together in a separate bowl until there are no more large clumps of ricotta. Pour into the bowl of the meat mixture. Mix with your hands until just incorporated. Again, do not over-mix.
If you want, to test seasoning, you can take a small bit of the mix, form into a patty, and heat in a small skillet on the stovetop until cooked through. Depending on how this test patty tastes to you, add more herbs, chili, or salt to taste to the meat mixture. Keep meat mixture in refrigerator while doing this.
3 Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat the bottom of a large roasting pan with olive oil. Form meatballs in your hand, about 1 1/2-inches in diameter, using about 3 Tbsp of the mixture to form each meatball. Arrange in pan so there is some space between them. If too crowded they will steam and not brown.
4 Roast meatballs in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning the meatballs after about 20 minutes, until the meatballs are beginning to brown.
5 Remove pan from oven. Use a metal spatula to dislodge meatballs from being stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan. Carefully cover the pan with aluminum foil (carefully because the pan is still hot!) Return the pan to the oven. Lower the heat to 300°F. Cook for an additional hour to 1 1/2 hours.
Sprinkle basil into sauce before serving.
Makes about 24 meatballs. Top with grated Parmesan.
Yield: Serves 5-6.