Ricotta Meatballs with Basic Tomato Sauce, and a Dash of Sweat & Tears

I love ricotta cheese and one day hope to try my hand at making it myself. Until then, I’ll continue to buy store bought whenever a recipe calls for it. Like for these delicious meatballs. For a non-fan of balls of meat on my plate, I really love these.

I wish I could say that I had a wonderful experience making them, but that would be a lie. It was hell. Our smoke detector is directly across from the entrance of the shoebox sized kitchen and it’s super sensitive. I swear, if you look at it the wrong way it will start screaming at you.

The recipe calls for baking the meatballs in the oven, so that’s what I did tried to do. Within 10 minutes of putting them in the oven the smoke detector was shrieking its head off at me. Regardless of what I did, the stupid thing would not stop its assault. I tried fanning it with a tea towel, pressing the buttons on the front, covering it with the tea towel..

Nothing. Worked.

Keep in mind that the meatballs had only been in the oven for 10 minutes – they were still raw, and definitely not burning. It seems that the smoke detector took exception to me having the oven on at such a high heat (450F). And let’s also discuss my fear of fire. I was barely keeping it together.

After about 10 minutes of this (but what felt like much longer), I heard a knock on the door. In a normal situation i’d be embarrassed but this wasn’t normal. I opened the door and saw the concerned look on my neighbour’s face and practically begged her to come in to help me. She stood on a chair whacking at the smoke detector with a wooden spoon while I set up the stand fan and faced it up at the wall. Finally, the smoke detector shut.the.hell.up.

It was then that I fell apart. Big fat tears rolled down my face as I sobbed and tried to thank her and apologise at the same time. Bless her for keeping her composure, because I can only imagine how much of a nutter I looked like. Needless to say, I sat down with a much needed glass of wine afterward to calm myself down while waiting for the boyfriend to come home.

My saviour neighbour suggestion was to finish cooking the meatballs on the stove top and speak with our landlord about getting a replacement smoke detector. I did both. the meatballs were delicious and we are now the proud owners of a subtle, less sensitive, smoke detector that literally beeps while a woman’s calm voice calls out “there is a fire. there is a fire.”.

So, I do recommend this recipe – but make sure your smoke detector isn’t an uptight cow before you turn the oven on. Or do yourself a favour and cook them on the stovetop.


Ricotta Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs 80% lean ground beef
  • 1 c ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground fennel
  • 4 c Basic Tomato Sauce

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Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Drizzle the olive oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
  2. Combine the ground beef, ricotta, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes, and fennel in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. a meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°F.
  5. While the meatballs are roasting, heat the tomato sauce in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often.
  6. When the meatballs are firm and fully cooked, remove them from the oven and drain the excess grease from the pan. Pour the tomato sauce over them. Return the meatballs to the oven and continue roasting for another 15 minutes.
  7. Or, as I mentioned, cook them on the stove top in the tomato sauce following the same guideline for internal temperature.

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This makes 2 dozen 1 1/2 inch balls.

Bon Appetit!

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