25 Ways to Celebrate Columbus Day

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Aired October 08, 2014

Meatballs with Red-Wine Tomato Sauce

serves 4


    2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
    2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk
    3/4 pound ground beef
    1/2 pound ground pork
    About 2 ounces prosciutto or pancetta, finely chopped
    Salt and pepper
    1/2 cup fresh ricotta, drained
    1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
    A handful grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (about 1/4 cup), plus more to pass at table
    1 large egg, beaten
    1 teaspoon (about 1/3 palmful) fennel seed
    1 teaspoon (about 1/3 palmful) crushed red pepper
    1 teaspoon (about 1/3 palmful) dried oregano or marjoram leaves, lightly crushed
    About 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    About 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    A fat drizzle plus 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    4 cloves garlic, 2 grated, 2 sliced
    1 small onion, grated
    2 tablespoons tomato paste
    1 cup red dry wine
    1/2 cup beef or veal stock
    2 cups passata (Italian tomato purée) or tomato sauce
    Warm crusty Italian bread


Position a rack in the center of the oven; preheat to 475°F degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the meats; season with salt and pepper. Add the ricotta, parsley, 1/4 cup grated cheese, the egg, spices, a fat drizzle of EVOO and the grated garlic. Stir in the moistened breadcrumbs; mix to combine. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions; divide each portion into thirds and roll each into a large meatball, to make 12 meatballs. Bake on a rimmed nonstick or parchment-lined baking sheet until just cooked through and slightly crispy, 16-18 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons EVOO over medium-high. Add the sliced garlic and grated onion, season and stir until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the tomato paste; stir one minute more. Add the wine; simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and passata then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the meatballs, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve with sauce, cheese and bread for mopping.


25 Ways to Celebrate Columbus Day

1 / 25