If you’re looking for a lovely Sunday afternoon meal for the Fall, these meatballs are for you. They simmer lazily in Parmesan Shitake broth while you read a book or take a nap. They’re great with a crusty piece of bread, on top of pasta or straight out of the pot if no one’s looking.
Adding ricotta to your meatballs will take them to a whole new level, making them soft and tender and almost creamy. They’re delicate and hearty at the same time. A quick sear and they go straight into a broth flavored with Parmesan rinds and sauteed Shitake mushrooms. The meatballs cook through in the broth, infusing it with meaty goodness. Cooking meatballs in broth may seem weird (where’s the marinara?), but they’re so flavorful that it would be a shame to cover them with sauce.
I served these with homemade gnocchi for an excellent Sunday Supper.
Related: Weeknight Meatballs for when time is short
Veal & Lamb Ricotta Meatballs in Shitake Parmesan Broth
You can substitute ground beef or pork for the veal and lamb, just don’t leave out the ricotta. You can also make the meatballs ahead of time and they’ll keep (covered) in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
4 cups chicken stock
1 Parmesan cheese rind
1 tbsp. butter
12 Shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. ground veal
1/2 lb. ground lamb
8 oz. ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. cream
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour (any kind you have on hand)
3 tbsp. canola or olive oil
Parmesan cheese for grating
Set a large pot over medium heat and add the chicken stock and Parmesan rinds. Cover and let simmer.
Set a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the butter and the Shitake mushrooms. Sautee until the mushrooms are cooked but still tender, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add the Shitakes to the broth, reduce the heat to low or medium-low and set the skillet aside (you’ll use it again later).
While the broth simmers, make your meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the veal, lamb, ricotta, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, cream, milk, parsley and garlic. Using your hands or a spoon (I like to use my hands), mix everything together without compacting the meat. You want to keep your meat fluffed up for more tender meatballs.
Once everything is combined, place a large piece of parchment next to your workspace and pile the flour onto a plate or Silpat mat. Now roll the meatballs together in the palm of your hand. Then roll them in the flour. Place your meatballs on the parchment paper as you go.
When your meatballs are made, (wash your hands!) set them aside and reheat your skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot add 1.5 tbsp. canola oil, then gently lay the meatballs in the skillet, making sure the pan isn’t over-crowded. You want to work in batches here to make sure your meatballs brown evenly. Turn them only a couple of times, and only when the side on the heat has a nice brown char. Add the remainder of the oil for your second batch.
When they’re browned on all sides, place them in the broth. Let the broth and meatballs simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.
Serve on top of pasta, making sure to ladle on the broth, or simply in a bowl with some crusty bread and a freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Makes 4 servings.