Another great recipe to make when you have a house full of family in the coming weeks are meatballs. They take about 3 hours to make, but only one hour of that is active, the rest is oven cooking time. These can be frozen, or made a few days ahead, kept in the fridge, and reheated in a moderate oven. The beauty of these balls is that the tomato sauce is as easy as using a can opener.
This recipe is adapted from one published in Food & Wine magazine in 2007 from Shelley Lindgren at A16 restaurant in the Marina area of San Francisco. Feel free to improvise with the recipe. It is hard to mess these beauties up. One note: I would always use the amount of bread called for. Less bread makes the balls more dense.
Pork-Ricotta Meatballs (Makes around 24 medium balls)
5 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1 1/2 pounds lean ground pork
5 ounces pancetta, thickly sliced and minced (found in the deli of your local supermarket) If pancetta cannot be found, use bacon (thick sliced is preferred, but not manditory)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
6 oz. Ricotta Cheese
Generous handful chopped parsely
teaspoon fennel seed, chopped
half teaspoon red chili flakes (or more)
2 28 ounce cans Italian tomatoes, crushed.
Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
Preheat the oven to 400. Put the diced bread in a food processor and pulse until the bread is reduced to large crumbs, and dump into a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl except the crushed tomatoes, basil and grated Parm/Pecorino. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, and shape into medium sized balls (about 3 rounded tablespoons each make around 24–make whatever size you desire) and place them in a roasting pan.
Put the balls in the oven, and cook for 30 minutes, until they start getting brown. Remove from the oven, and loosen the meatballs from the bottom of the pan. Dump both cans of crushed tomatoes into the pan, and stir to cover the balls in sauce. Place the meatballs back in the oven, reduce the temperature to 300, and cook for two additional hours.