Serves about 2 dozen 1 1/2 - inch meatballs
Originally aired December 1, 2011
- For the Meatballs:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds 80% lean ground beef
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
- 4 cups classic tomato sauce
- For the Classic Tomato Sauce:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Two 26-ounce boxes Pomi Chopped Tomatoes or two 28-ounch cans whole plum tomatoes, chopped with their liquid
For the Meatballs:
Preheat the oven to 450F. Drizzle the olive oil into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface. Set aside.
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.
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.
Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165F.
While the meatballs are roasting, heat the tomato sauce in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often.
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.
For the Classic Tomato Sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, bay leaf, oregano, garlic, and salt and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir constantly until the sauce begins to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent the sauce on the bottom of the pot from burning. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired. Remove the bay leaf before serving.