"These meatballs go through a combination of browning in the oven and then simmering in luscious tomato sauce so that both the meatballs and the sauce get the advantage of each others flavor. Besides using fresh ricotta, we always use stale bread to make chunky rustic breadcrumbs! It prevents the meatballs from becoming too dense but holds them together nicely for extended cooking." - tara
Nonna's meatballs are a constant crowd pleaser at Birba! They are juicy, tender and oh so delicious! If you have had the pleasure of trying them before then you know exactly what I mean! If you are having a serious case of FOMO right now I highly suggest you head on over to Birba and order up some of these delicious morsels! xx sarah
1/2 lb. ground pork (if you get pork butt and grind it in the food processor you’ll get better results)
1/2 lb. ground beef (same goes for beef, we use grass fed chuck)
6 tbsp. salt
2tsp minced garlic
2 tsp. minced Italian parsley
1/2 c milk
2 tbsp. Fresh ricotta
2 slices of stale country bread, torn into pinky nail size pieces
1/2 cup white wine
2 TBSP fennel seed
1 TBSP white pepper
2 TBSP chili flakes
1 TBSP fresh ground pepper
1 TBSP granulated onion
1 TBSP granulated garlic
If you are going to grind the meat yourself, place the food processor bowl and the blade in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes. This helps the meat get evenly ground.
Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl with a light hand and try not to over mix. Overworking the meat will make a tough, dry meatball. The mixture should be sticky and wet. Test the mixture by spooning out a small amount and cooking in a frying pan. Taste and adjust the mixture for more salt or more chili flakes if necessary.
Scoop meat into balls with an ice cream scooper (or spoon) onto a baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until browned.
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. We use whole Marzano tomatoes in their juice and squish them by hand into a stock pot. Add a few leaves of fresh chopped basil and begin to simmer. By now, the meatballs should be browned - place all the meatballs into the stock pot, making sure the browned bits on the sheet pan make it into the pot. Hopefully all the meatballs will be submerged in tomato, let simmer for an hour and a half. Once the meatballs are tender, remove from heat and serve with fresh parmesan and of course a ladle of the sauce on top.
photography by Sarah Dickenson