Classic Meatballs

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Plan ahead, as you will need to drain the ricotta for two hours and the meatballs must be chilled for an hour before they are cooked. Bump up the heat with a few extra chili flakes, if you’d like. For more flavor to the tomato sauce, add a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Adapted from “Saveur Italian Comfort Food,” by the editors of Saveur.

• 2/3 c. ricotta

• 10 oz. ground veal

• 10 oz. ground pork shoulder

• 2 oz. finely chopped pork fat or unsmoked bacon

• 2 oz. prosciutto, finely chopped

• 1 1/4 c. loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus more for garnish

• 2 tsp. dried oregano

• 1 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds

• 1 tsp. chili flakes

• 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

• 1/4 tsp. ground allspice

• 7 slices white bread, finely ground in a food processor

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• 2 tbsp. milk

• 3 eggs, lightly beaten

• 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing

• 1/4 c. red wine

• 4 c. canned tomato purée

• 1 c. beef or veal stock

• 1 teaspoon sugar

• 1 tsp. salt

• Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to garnish


Drain ricotta in a sieve for 2 hours.

Later, combine all meats, parsley, oregano, fennel seeds, chili flakes, cumin, allspice, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together ricotta, milk and eggs, then gently add to meat mixture. Chill for an hour.

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease 2 rimmed baking sheets with oil and set aside. Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop or your hands, portion mixture and roll into balls. Transfer to baking sheets.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in high-sided, 3-quart (ovenproof) skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs; cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate and wipe out skillet. Repeat with remaining oil and meatballs.

Return reserved meatballs to skillet along with any juices from the plate. Add wine, increase heat to high, and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato purée, stock, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil and tightly cover skillet.

Transfer to oven and bake until meatballs are tender and have absorbed some sauce, about 1 1/2 hours.

To serve, transfer meatballs to a platter and spoon sauce over. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and parsley.


Meatballs in Lemon Sauce

Serves 4.

Note: The tender meaty mushrooms in the thick and glossy sauce are delicious, even without meatballs (then use the sauce on rice). From “One Pot Spanish,” by Penelope Casas.

• 6 tbsp. dry breadcrumbs

• 1/4 c. milk

• 3/4 lb. ground veal

• 3/4 lb. ground pork

• 2 eggs

• 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

• 5 tbsp. minced parsley, divided

• 2 tbsp. finely chopped prosciutto

• 1 1/2 tbsp. minced fresh thyme leaves or 3/4 tsp. dried thyme

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

• All-purpose flour for dusting

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/4 c. finely chopped sweet onion

• 3/4 c. chicken broth

• 3 tbsp. dry white wine

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• Pinch of crumbled saffron threads

• Kosher or sea salt

• 4 oz. mushrooms, brushed clean, stems trimmed, and caps halved or quartered

• 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

• 2 egg yolks

• Chicken broth or water, as needed


To prepare meatballs: Combine breadcrumbs with milk in a large bowl. Gently mix in ground veal and pork, eggs, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons parsley, prosciutto, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Shape into 1/2-inch meatballs and dust with flour.

To prepare sauce: Heat oil in a shallow flameproof casserole over medium-high heat, and sauté meatballs until brown on all sides. Add onion and sauté until softened. Stir in broth and wine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Mash 2 tablespoons parsley, garlic, saffron and a pinch of salt to a paste in a mortar, or process in a mini food processor until finely minced.

Transfer meatballs to a warm plate and keep warm. Strain sauce through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids with the back of a metal soup ladle to extract as much liquid as possible. Return sauce to the casserole and add mushrooms, mortar mixture and lemon juice.

Whisk egg yolks with a little hot sauce from the casserole in a small bowl, then add back to the casserole. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened (do not boil). If the sauce seems too thick, add a little broth or water. Return meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 1 minute. Serve straight from the casserole, sprinkled with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.


Chile-Pepper-Jelly-Glazed Lamb Meatballs

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: These little gems are like potato chips; you can’t stop with one. From “The Ultimate Appetizer Ideabook,” by Kiera and Cole Stipovich.

• 1 lb. ground lamb

• 2 tbsp. minced onion

• 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

• 1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh mint leaves

• 3/4 c. fresh breadcrumbs

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

• 1 tbsp. ketchup

• 1 tsp. smoked paprika

• 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1 lightly beaten egg


Mix together lightly the lamb, onion, parsley, mint, breadcrumbs, garlic, Worcestershire, ketchup, paprika, salt and pepper. When well combined, add egg and mix again. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on baking sheet, lined with parchment paper or foil. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees. Immediately add cooked meatballs to Chili-Pepper-Jelly Glaze in a saucepan and simmer uncovered over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring gently as needed until the meatballs are nicely glazed.


Chili-Pepper-Jelly Glaze

Makes about 2/3 cup.

• 1/3 c. ketchup

• 1/4 c. water

• 3 tbsp. pepper jelly

• 2 tsp. olive oil

• 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

• 1 tsp. chili powder

• 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice


In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the flavors have blended. Use right away or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.