Self-taught chef, John LaFemina, teaches us how to make his unbelievable meatballs!

• Veal, Beef and Pork Meatballs with Ricotta Filling
(8-10 servings)


For the Meatballs:
3 cups cubed crust-less filone or regular Italian bread (about 1/2 loaf)
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 egg
1/2 onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pinch of oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups tomato sauce
For the stuffing:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper to taste

To finish the meatballs:
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Preheat oven to 350.

To make the meatballs, run cubed breadcrumbs under water and gently squeeze out excess liquid. Put bread in a large mixing bowl. Add veal, beef, pork, egg, onion, parsley, basil, cheese oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well with hands. Divide mixture into 8 portions. Using hands, roll each portion into a large meatball about the size of an apple. Place meatballs in a medium to large baking dish.

In a separate bowl, combine tomato sauce and 2 cups water. Spoon tomato sauce and water mixture over the meatballs until liquid comes three-quarters of the way up. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the meatballs for 1 hour, turning the dish after 30 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven, drain and discard liquid. Let meatballs cool to room temperature. At this point the meatballs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To make stuffing, in a medium mixing bowl, combine ricotta with Parmigiano, salt and pepper. Using an apple corer or small knife, core out a hole to the bottom of the meatball that is about 1/2 inch in diameter. Fill the hole with cheese mixture (for best results, use a pastry bag).

To finish, spoon the tomato sauce evenly over the meatballs and heat for 10-15 minutes at 350. Remove pan from oven. Place 1 tablespoon of ricotta on top of each meatball, sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and heat for an additional 3 minutes.