Meatballs with a surprise

August  9, 2010
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 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

  • Serves 4-6
  • 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
In This Recipe
  1. 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.
  2. Using your finger hollow out a little cove that is about the size of 2 teaspoons big in the middle of each meatball.
  3. 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.
  4. Seal each meatball back up as securely as possible, minimizing your handling of the meatball at the same time.
  5. Mix the panko crumbs with the dried seasonings listed just below as well as with the parmesan cheese.
  6. Roll these balls gently and evenly in this seasoned bread crumb mix.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Serve with your favorite pasta. Add more parmesan cheese and a chiffonade of fresh basil.
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