Basic meatballs become dinner party fare when stuffed with rich, creamy ricotta cheese in this recipe from Apizz chef John LaFemina.
For the Meatballs
- 3 cups cubed crusty white Italian bread, crusts removed
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Pinch of oregano
- Coarse salt
- 2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
For the Stuffing
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Make the meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Run bread under water and gently squeeze out excess liquid. Transfer bread to a large bowl and add veal, beef, pork, egg, onion, parsley, basil, cheese, and oregano; season with salt. Using your hands, mix until well combined. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions and roll each portion into a large round meatball. Place meatballs in a large baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine tomato sauce and two cups of water. Spoon tomato sauce mixture over meatballs until liquid comes three-quarters of the way up the meatballs, adding more water if necessary. Cover baking dish with parchment paper-lined aluminum foil and transfer to oven. Bake meatballs for 1 hour, rotating dish after 30 minutes.
Make the stuffing: In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients. Transfer cheese mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip; set aside.
Remove meatballs from baking dish and discard liquid. Using an apple corer or small knife, cut out a 1/2-inch hole in the bottom of each meatball; fill hole with cheese mixture and transfer meatballs to a large baking dish, hole side up.
Serve: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon tomato sauce evenly over meatballs and transfer to oven. Bake until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. Top each meatball with a tablespoon of ricotta cheese (it should look like it is oozing from the center) and sprinkle with Parmigiano; return to oven and heat for 3 minutes. Serve immediately.