This is the first ball I developed and the first ball I served to a member of the paying public. It was the moment when things really started to roll, with my cooking truly exposed and the adrenaline pumping. It felt good. This is a ball with plenty of flavor and texture, and I like to load up the red pepper flakes to increase the fire. They can take a good braise in any sauce but I serve them in my spiced tomato and red onion sauce.
From The Meatball Cookbook, by Jez Felwick
- ½ Cup ricotta cheese
- 1 3/4 Cup Japanese panko breadcrumbs (or 1¼ cups fresh breadcrumbs)
- 13 Ounces boneless pork shoulder, finely ground
- 7 Ounces boneless beef chuck, finely ground
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 free-range eggs
- 3 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems, leaves reserved
- 2 Teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 425ºF and line a large baking pan with nonstick parchment paper.
Put the ricotta into a large bowl and break it up using a fork. Add the eggs and whisk together. Add the ground pork and beef, panko crumbs (or fresh breadcrumbs), garlic, cilantro stems, salt, and dried red pepper flakes. Mix with your hands until well combined.
Heat a small skillet over high heat. Break off a small amount of the mixture, flatten between your fingers, and fry until cooked. Taste to check the seasoning and spice levels and add more salt and dried red pepper flakes, if necessary. Form the mixture into about 18 balls, each 1½–2 inches in diameter, packing each one firmly, and place them on the prepared baking pan.
Bake in the oven for 15–18 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through — the balls should begin to brown on the top. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn underneath.
Meanwhile, heat the sauce in a large pan over medium heat. When the balls are cooked, add them to the sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.
Scatter with a few leaves of cilantro, and serve with sour cream and a baby spinach and arugula salad on the side.