Italian Cocktail Meatballs with Herbs and Ricotta

While I cannot personally attest to the deliciousness of these meatballs, my family raves about them. This is the second time I have made this recipe (which can be found here) and when I began preparing the meatballs this morning; I realized that I did not have all of the necessary ingredients. Too late to turn back, I decided to do what I do best, improvise.

The first ingredient I realized that I did not have was the ricotta – hello, this is a main component of this dish. How can you have ricotta meatballs without the ricotta?? I decided that I would just use ½ cup of cottage cheese that I would strain and then puree in the food processor to achieve the creamy texture of ricotta. While this may have been a good plan at the time, I ultimately forgot to add it altogether (hey, what can I say – I am taking care of a 2 ½ year old while I attempt to cook after all).

Next, I did not have bacon at the ready (I keep bacon in the freezer and I was not about to wait around for it to thaw) so instead, I added two slices of very thin pancetta that I minced.

Then I had to substitute dried parsley and thyme for the fresh herbs (I so hate going to the grocery store when they are changing inventory in the produce department – and then forgetting that I did not pick up any fresh herbs at all). Finally, (yes, there is more), I had to use Parmigiano-Reggiano in place of the pecorino cheese that is called for in the recipe. Ok, I am not going to lie; I am not into cheeses made from anything but cow’s milk. If I know that a cheese has been made from sheep, goat or buffalo milk, I will have a hard time eating it, so I rarely purchase non-cow’s milk cheese.

I had purchased all white meat ground turkey this time around and I do not believe that I will buy it again. The texture that the white meat ground turkey contributed to the meatballs was sticky and downright unappealing to work with. After adding the turkey to the pork mixture and forming the meatballs, I was actually glad that I didn’t have ricotta on hand – this would have made the meatballs far too goopy to work with.

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The browned meatballs before being doused in sauce.

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I used my trusty 1 tablespoon scooper to make 63 two-bite sized meatballs. Despite all of the improvising I had to do, these meatballs were devoured by the family. My sister tried these meatballs and the only word she could come up with to describe them was ‘good’ – not a very good use of descriptive words, I know, but I couldn’t come up with any of my own, so I can’t complain.

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