Italian Ricotta Meatballs with Cheesy Polenta

Today has been a great day! I have been recipe testing in my kitchen all day-feeling creative and a tad bit like a mad scientist. I really do enjoy the creative aspect of cooking-combining flavors and textures that make people say, “Mmmm!”

I have been craving Italian food for a while now. Due to Covid I have been unable to go to my favorite restaurants to get my fix. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have a good experience with Italian to-go….it’s just not the same.

So this week I have Italy on the brain! I decided to make my hubby and I these ricotta meatballs with a cheesy polenta and it did not disappoint. These meatballs are SO tender and fluffy on the inside. And if you choose to broil them for a bit-whew! That crispy exterior just pushed them over the top!

I need to tell you though, I am not an egg inside of meatballs girl…there, I said it…. I personally feel that when you start adding eggs to meatballs you are making your way over to meatloaf. And meatloaf, as much as I love it, does not have the same texture that a really good meatball should have. #sorrynotsorry 🙂

So pour yourself a glass of really good wine and enjoy this dish with someone you love. And hey, it’s quarantine-you could just enjoy it on your own too <3

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 lb ground pork

1/2 cup ricotta

2 large garlic cloves, grated (or pureed in a food processor)

1/2 onion, grated (or pureed in a food processor)

2 tbs basil, chopped

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1/2 tbs salt

1 tsp pepper

2 slices of bread, cut into chunks

1/2 cup milk or milk alternative

1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce

For the Polenta

4 1/2 c water

1 tps salt

1 c yellow cornmeal (you can buy grits if it is easier for you to find)

1 c grated Parmesan

2 tbs butter

Salt, to taste

Instructions

For the Meatballs

Preheat oven to 425.

In a small bowl, mix the bread and milk together and let soak as you prepare the meatballs.

In a mixing bowl combine the beef, pork, minced garlic, grated onion, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Carefully fold until just combined. Squeeze excess milk from bread and mix completely into the meatball mixture.

Roll into meatballs-a tad smaller than golf ball size- and arrange onto a baking sheet. Place into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. For a crispy exterior, turn the oven to broil and broil for 5 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on them. I can’t tell you how much toast I have burned from an un-watched broiler!

For the Cheesy Polenta

Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium size pot. Once boiling, add the salt and pour the cornmeal slowly into the stock, whisking as you pour. Whisk until there are no lumps.

Reduce the heat to medium low, whisking often, until the polenta begins to thicken-about 30-40 minutes. If the polenta is not as soft as you would like, add the 1/2 cup of water and loosen it up. Add the butter and Parmesan cheese. Salt to taste.

Serve meatballs on a bed of cheesy polenta. Top with favorite marinara sauce.