Ricotta and Beef Meatballs

MeatballsThis weekend I was perusing Food & Wine and came across a recipe for meatballs inspired by an amazing new Italian restaurant in Los Angeles called Bestia.  The recipe seemed pretty straightforward, and since Patrick loves meatballs, I thought it would be a great dish.  I modified the recipe a bit and came out with the most amazing dish of meatballs.  Hope you like them!

Here’s what you need (to make about 10 large meatballs in a pot of yummy sauce):

2 thick slices of a few days old bread

1/2 cup milk (I did 1% lowfat)

2 pounds ground beef (I used grass fed, 20/80, which may have helped contribute to the deliciousness of the taste)

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (whole fat is better)

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

2 eggs or three egg whites

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

salt and pepper

2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 jars tomato sauce (I did one Trader Joe’s roasted garlic tomato sauce, and one can of Trader Joe’s low fat marinara sauce)

Here’s what you do:

1.  Pour the milk over the bread in a bowl and allow the bread to soak up the milk.

2.  Combine the beef, cheese, eggs, lemon zest, parsley and spices in a large bowl.  Mix well.Meatball flavors

3.  Squeeze the excess milk from the bread, break up the pieces, and add to the meat mixture.  Incorporate well.

4.  Put half of the oil into a heavy bottomed pot.  Heat over medium-high heat.  Form large meatballs out of half of the meat mixture (about 5) and put them in the pot.  Turn them to brown the outside (about 5 minutes) and then remove from the pan to a plate with a paper towel.  Repeat by adding the remaining oil to the pan and making meatballs with the remaining meat mixture.

5.  Once all meatballs are browned and removed from the pot, add one jar of sauce to coat the bottom of the pot.  Nestle a few more than half of the meatballs in the sauce (reforming them a bit if needed before putting them in the pot).  Then pour the other jar of sauce over the meatballs and nestle the remaining meatballs.  Cover the pot, and cook over medium heat until the meatballs are fully cooked through, about 1 hour.  Periodically spoon sauce over the meatballs on the top layer, and about 30 minutes through, move the meatballs around a bit to ensure they are all covered with the sauce.



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