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Author Notes: I thought up the idea of filling a meatball with a ricotta and egg center this morning. I had no idea if it would work or not, but it really has. Someone else may well have thought this up already. I have not checked, but here is what I came up with. I remember someone listing anchovies as a secret ingredient in another recipe, so I thought I would try that out in this recipe. But the real surprise is that the ricotta filling did not ooze out of the meatballs when I sealed them up securely...ok one did leak out a bit but I had not sealed that one up so well; it was easily salvaged and quite delicious. You really only need a small amount of the ricotta mixed with the egg and herbs, but it needs to be mixed with a whole egg...so you do want to have another use ready for the remaining ricotta mixture in some other recipe. I have illustrated a small serving size, the meatballs being shaped for the filling, and the meatballs being browned after they have been stuffed and sealed. I decided to upload a close-up of the meatball I did not fill dead center, the one that oozed out in the pan. You can see that it still looks pretty appetizing, despite the flaw. For the sauce I used a huge short cut with 28 oz. of whole tomatoes in puree mixed with 25 oz. of roasted red pepper marinara sauce (by Emeril). —Sagegreen
- 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
- 3/4 cup homemade or panko bread crumbs soaked in 1/3 cup of milk
- 1/2 teaspoon sage leaf, chiffonade
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons anchovies, chopped
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 12 teaspoons out of one cup ricotta mixed with 1 egg and 2 tbl. basil leaves, chopped
- 4 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1/16 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil for browning
- 1/4 cup rose wine
- 28 ounces best tomato and red pepper marinara sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- pasta of your choice
- additional parmesan cheese
- 4 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade for garnish
- Mix the egg, 3/4 c. bread crumbs (soaked in milk), sage, salt and pepper, onion, and anchovies together. Gently add the beef and roll to form 2" balls. This should make about 12 balls.
- Using your finger hollow out a little cove that is about the size of 2 teaspoons big in the middle of each meatball.
- From the ricotta and egg mix, that you can go on to use the remainder for a lasagne dish (or other recipe), use only about 12 teaspoons. Spoon about a teaspoon into each hollowed out cove, keeping this as central as possible.
- Seal each meatball back up as securely as possible, minimizing your handling of the meatball at the same time.
- Mix the panko crumbs with the dried seasonings listed just below as well as with the parmesan cheese.
- Roll these balls gently and evenly in this seasoned bread crumb mix.
- To a hot skillet add the oil and brown the meatballs evenly and quickly. The ricotta should not ooze out if they are all sealed. Do not cook through.
- Add the wine to deglaze the pan. Transfer the browned meatballs to a Dutch oven (or equivalent weight pan) and add your marinara sauce that was made with tomatoes and red peppers, and a bay leaf. Simmer slowly for 25-35 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite pasta. Add more parmesan cheese and a chiffonade of fresh basil.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Meatballs