Barbara says: “Meatballs are always very popular at gatherings and it seems like nobody can eat just one. Ricotta cheese is the key ingredient in this recipe because it makes the meatballs quite tender. They’re very good to serve with marinara [sauce] for dipping, or as sliders (see note). Chianti classico and full-bodied zinfandel always complement red meat, and either one would be a good choice to serve here.”
- 20g panko
- 60ml whole milk
- 455g minced pork
- 115g whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 8g freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp fines herbes or herbes de Provençe
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
- chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- marinara, for serving (optional)
For the marinara (makes about 790g):
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 794g can organic peeled and crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp sugar
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 10g chopped fresh basil
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the panko and the milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the pork, cheeses, egg, herbs, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and work the mixture together with your hands until it is well incorporated.
Form the mixture into 30 balls that are 2.5cm in diameter and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, up to 2 hours or overnight.
For the marinara, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, sugar, and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper.
Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil and stir. Cook for 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
Position an oven rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 220°C.
Brush the meatballs with olive oil and bake until golden and cooked through, turning once halfway through baking, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to a platter, garnish with parsley, and serve with warm marinara sauce (if desired).
For delicious mini-meatball sandwiches or sliders, heat the meatballs in a large saucepan over medium heat with enough tomato sauce to cover.
Once warm, spoon the meatballs into mini hamburger or slider rolls. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese, garnish with parsley, and serve.
The meatballs can be prepared and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead of time. They can also be baked and then stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw and bake them for about 25 minutes in a 220°C oven.
The sauce will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week and in the freezer up to 1 month.
Edited extract from Wine Time: 70+ Recipes For Simple Bites That Pair Perfectly With Wine by Barbara Scott-Goodman (£17.99, Chronicle), out now