Friday, March 9, 2018

Pork-Ricotta meatballs リコッタチーズ入りミートボール

I often make pork or chicken meatballs. I usually add eggs and panko to make them light and tender. Instead of frying, I usually bake them. I came across this recipe in the Wall street Journal. The original recipe was for lamb meatballs. Since I had my usual hand-chopped ground pork from the trimmings of pork tenderloin, I made meatballs with pork and my usual seasoning but added Ricotta cheese instead of bread crumbs. I served the meatballs with tomato sauce I made from fresh and skinned Campari tomato. I added blanched broccoli as a side.

My wife added some sweet potato Gnocchi she made some time ago and froze. She just cooked them simply in butter. This made it a complete dinner but I took the picture before the gnocchi was added so it does not appear.

For meatballs:
1 lb ground pork (I used  hand chopped trimmings of pork tenderloins.)
1/3 lb whole milk Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, de-veined and finely chopped
3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stem removed and finely chopped
2 eggs
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For tomato sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
6 skinned fresh Campari tomatos, quartered  (I usually have this prepared over the weekend but when we do not finish them during the week, I use them to make tomato sauce)
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/2 medium onion, finely minced
1/2 tsp each of dried oregano and basil
2 bay leaves
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
(Optional) 1/4 tsp baking soda (Although made form fresh Campari tomatos and the sauce is not too acidic I still add baking soda to further reduce acidity) and 1/4 tsp of sugar.

For meatballs:
Sautee the onion, jalapeño and shiitake mushroom in olive oil until the onion is transparent. Season with salt and pepper. Let it cool to room temperature.
Mix all other ingredients into the onion mixture (I was going to adjust the consistency if it was too soft by adding bread crumbs or flour but it was just right and I did not add them).
Using a medium size ice-cream scoop, make meatballs and place it in a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil coated with olive oil.

The green is from jalapeño pepper.

I cooked it in a preheated 350F oven toaster in convection mode for 30 minutes. The bottom became flat but that does not bother me.

For tomato sauce:
Put the olive oil in a deep sautée pan on low heat and add the red pepper and garlic.
When the garlic is fragrant, add the onion and sautée for several minutes on medium flame until soft and transparent, add the campari tomatos with its juice, add the oregano, basil and bay leaves, mix and simmer until the sauce is reduced to the consistency you like (30-40 minutes).
Taste and add salt and sugar (optional).  I also added the baking soda. It causes the sauce to start foaming.  Keep stirring and let it simmer further until all the bubbles subside.

Adding Ricotta and Parmesan cheese made the meatballs very tender and flavorful. This is definitely more high fat meatball but certainly good. I may make this with ground lamb and more closely following the original recipe some day. By adding my wife's gnocchi, this was a well balanced and satisfying dinner that goes so well with red wine.

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