• 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce or puree
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus some for liberal drizzling
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, eyeball it
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 pound ground beef, pork and veal mix
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, a small handful

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place the tomato sauce and stock in medium saucepot and heat over low heat. Keep warm.

Place a medium-sized pot with rounded sides over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan EVOO. Add onions and 2 cloves of garlic and saut a couple of minutes to soften. Add the rice and turn to coat. Toast for about 1 minute then add the tomato paste and stir a minute more, stir in wine and cook until the liquid evaporates. Begin adding a couple of ladles of the tomato-stock at a time. Each time you add the liquid, stir the risotto vigorously to develop the starches. Rice will cook 18 minutes total. (If the rice is al dente and creamy, yet you still have a ladle or 2 of liquid left, do not feel forced to use it.) In the last minute or so of cooking time, stir in the butter until it melts then add 1/2 cup cheese, a couple of handfuls. Turn off heat and stir in basil.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, moisten the breadcrumbs with milk. Add egg, meat, parsley, 1/4 cup cheese, salt and pepper to the bowl and mix to combine. Score meat into 4 sections and form 8 small balls from each section, the size of marbles. Place the balls on a baking sheet and coat them with a liberal drizzle of EVOO. Bake 5 minutes until cooked through and golden.

Serve risotto in shallow bowls topped with 8 mini meatballs per serving.