I happened to catch a segment on the radio this past weekend on meatballs – yes, meatballs – and how they are taking the food scene by storm – all shapes, sizes and tastes. Wow – I have somehow missed this trend completely! (I can hear my mother exclaiming incredulously - ‘Just meatballs?? Where is the pasta??) But I love meatballs (‘polpette’ in Italian). I have wonderful memories of my mother’s baseball-sized balls of tenderness that she simmered forever in her sauce. So last night, after a longer than expected day of work, I needed something quick – and given that I had a pound of ground pork thawing in the refrigerator – Meatballs! Perfetto! Jump on that foodie bandwagon! I added ricotta to keep them moist and lemon in the sauce to balance the flavors. These took less than 45 minutes to mix, shape and fry – super easy. Rest assured that I took much longer to linger over my cute little polpette – served with a simple green salad and nice crusty bread to soak up the yummy sauce. My mother would have been pleased.
Pork and Ricotta Meatballs in a Lemon-Wine Sauce
For the meatballs:
1 small onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup of breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
1/2 cup ricotta
1 pound ground pork (or chicken, turkey, beef, veal – take your pick)
About 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon (Zest the lemon prior to juicing so you can use as garnish)
1 large bowl to mix meatballs, 1 large sauté pan for frying
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook until soft – about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, egg, Parmigiano, ricotta and mix. Add in the cooled onion, ground pork, parsley, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix with hands. (Do not over mix -just until combined!)
3. Shape the mixture into slightly-larger than golf balls.
4. Return the skillet to the heat over medium heat and add in a little olive oil (about 1 -2 tablespoons) and heat. Add the meatballs and cook. Use tongs to turn the meatballs to allow them to brown all over. Cook until just cooked through and no longer pink in the center. You may need to do this in a few batches if there is no enough room in the pan. Remove the meatballs to a plate as they cook.
5. When all the meatballs are cooked, add the stock and wine to the pan to deglaze. Allow to simmer over medium heat until reduced by about 1/3. Add in the lemon juice.
6. Add the meatballs back into the pan and simmer on medium low until warmed throughout.
7. Serve meatballs in a warm bowl with some sauce and a sprinkle of lemon zest curls.