Ricotta ensures a delicate texture and moistness in these pork and veal meatballs, served in a rich tomato sauce.
- 70 g stale crustless bread, torn
- 125 ml (½ cup) milk
- 120 g ricotta
- 500 g pork and veal mince
- 1 egg
- 40 g (½ cup) grated parmesan, plus extra, to serve
- 2-3 tbsp chopped parsley leaves, stalks reserved
- ¼ tsp finely grated nutmeg
- finely grated zest of ½ lemon
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large French shallot or small brown onion, finely chopped
- 150 ml red wine
- 800 ml passata
- 1 piece red or yellow capsicum
- 1 small celery stalk from the heart, leaves reserved
- 375 g spaghettini
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time: 40 minutes
1. Place the bread and milk in a large mixing bowl, toss to combine. Stand for 20 minutes, then use your hands to mash it into a pulp. Add the ricotta, mince, egg, parmesan, parsley, nutmeg, lemon zest and a little salt and pepper and mix well (using your hands is best here) to create an even paste. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to firm up a bit.
2. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Shape the meatball mixture into golf ball-sized rounds and cook in batches until browned all over. Add the shallot and cook with the meatballs for 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes, then add the passata, 400 ml water, capsicum, celery stalk, the reserved parsley stalks and a pinch of salt. Stir through gently, then bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt and adjust to your liking. Discard the exhausted celery and parsley stalks and capsicum.
3. Bring a large saucepan of well salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, stir well and cook until just before al dente. Strain the pasta straight into the meatball pan, dragging along some pasta cooking water. Stir well, but gently, not to disturb the soft meatballs. Serve hot, with fresh celery leaves, a little grated parmesan and a grinding of pepper.
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