Last night’s dinner was a dish I’ve been wanting to make for some time now: pork and ricotta meatballs in tomato sauce, from the April edition of Food and Wine. I had a half-container of fresh ricotta that we used to make some ricotta pancakes, but it was a new brand for me, and of a much coarser consistency than expected. That’s not a bad thing at all for a savory dish like meatballs, but was a bit odd in my fluffy pancakes.
In any case, we got a packet of organic ground pork from LifeSource this weekend for the purpose of making meatballs, and I’ve been waiting most of the week for the right weather and timing to present itself. Last night wasn’t ideal, as we went for gelato after work with a good friend and then took Freyja to Bush Park for a brisk walk, but I was determined to have meatballs for dinner even if it didn’t happen until 10pm. Fortunately, we only had to wait until 9:30pm to eat, which almost seemed like a bonus.
The recipe was pretty straightforward. I made sure to start my dawdling oven well in advance and snipped some fresh parsley from the garden. My basil plant is an especially sad, droopy thing this year, so I went with dried basil and just stirred it into the tomato sauce. It took about 2 hours from start to finish: 30 minutes to roast the meatballs and 90 to slow-cook them in the sauce, during which I turned them every half an hour. In the home stretch, I put on a pot of whole-wheat spaghetti to boil (as requested), and drizzled some olive oil over the pasta before topping it with some meatballs, sauce, and grated pecorino romano.
They were delicious, moist and very flavorful, with just enough sauce. I would be hard-pressed to decide between these and Joyce Goldstein’s Sardinian meatballs, but I guess it would just come down to a matter of time. These ricotta meatballs take much longer to cook and involve the oven, so if I was craving meatballs in the dead of summer (and no, Oregon really hasn’t gotten there yet), I’d have to go with the Sardinian meatballs. But I think the combination of pancetta and ricotta added to these meatballs gives them an edge flavor-wise, and I’m sure the oven-roasting only adds to that depth, so with a surfeit of time and cool air, I would definitely choose these instead. Both recipes make a lot of meatballs, and we are looking forward to leftovers for lunch today: I knew there was a reason I grabbed a bag of pitas!