Meatball and Italian Sausage Sandwich with Fresh Ricotta


I get what’s called “meatloaf meat” for my meatballs, even though the idea and even the word “meatloaf” disgusts me.  Basically, apart from bread, I have no intention of eating my food in loaf form.  Certain exceptions could be made for a really good duck rillette. Or pound cake.

Meatloaf meat consists of ground beef, pork, and veal.  A combination of ground beef and pork would work just fine.  Turkey or chicken would work too if you’re not a big red meat eater.  I have never tried this with seitan or tofu or any of the fake meats because I am an unapologetic omnivore, but if someone wants to try that and get back to me, I’d love to hear how that turned out.

Meatballs

1 lb ground meat (of your choice)
1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs (I process my own sourdough breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup parsley, rough chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 clove garlic, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste*

Mix all ingredients together.  Hand form into small balls (they need to fit on a sandwich) or use a cookie scoop to form into balls.  Something about using a cookie scoop to form meat makes me shudder, but that’s a decision every cook must make for herself. Cook meatballs in a pan preheated to medium high to get a good sear for 1-2 minutes on each side until seared all around and cooked to your liking.  I test by sacrificing one and cutting that one open.  I don’t mind a little pink in the middle of mine, even though it’s ground beef, but that’s up to you.  It’s just hard to do the push test on these because of the happy brown crust on the outside.

*I use @ 1 tsp kosher salt for this and maybe 1/2 tsp worth of fresh pepper grinds, but start with 1/2 tsp of kosher salt or 1/4 tsp iodized table salt, and make a tester patty.  Basically cook about 1/2 tsp dollop of meat, should take about 30 seconds, and eat that.  That way you can assess the seasoning before all the meatballs are made.  Salting them afterwards just isn’t the same.

I just bought my italian sausage this time, but you could make it.

Italian Sausage

1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and cracked
1 egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, rough chopped

Mix all ingredients together.  Form into patties.  Cook in a pan preheated to medium high to get a good sear.  Cook until seared and golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip and repeat.   I test by sacrificing one and cutting that one open.  If they are still not cooked adequately, finish in an oven at 375.

I used Marinara I for this sandwich.  While my sauce was going, I made the ricotta cheese.

I only buy whole milk because I don’t actually drink milk. Except in my iced coffee.  I use it mainly to cook. Or to make ice cream. Or cheese.  Though you could cook with any kind of milk, in my palate’s humble opinion, skim just isn’t going to get the job done.

I get irritated at the grocery store that a gallon of milk costs only slightly more than a quart.  Basically, I’m not paying for the milk.  I’m paying for the shipping and packaging and branding. So I always buy a whole gallon, and when it’s about to go bad, I make ricotta.  That preserves it for another week.

Fresh Ricotta

4 cups milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Bring the milk to a boil in a high sided pot. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and salt.  Continue to stir until curds form.  This should happen almost immediately.

Let stand for 1/2 hour. Don’t skimp on the time.  The curds need the time to form properly. I’ve learned this the hard way. Strain off the whey through a fine mesh strainer.

Roll the strainer around to get rid of excess moisture.  That’s it.

Garlic Oil

1 clove garlic, whole
2 tablespoons olive oil

Cook the garlic in the oil in a small pot or pan on low for 5-10 minutes, until the oil smells like garlic.  Remove garlic.

Brush the garlic oil on your bread of choice.  My bread of choice is homemade sourdough, which I only recommend making to the stout of heart and the serious, serious bread lovers.  Any bread will do.

Toast bread o’ choice.

Assemble sandwich.

Just the ricotta and the marinara sauce on garlic bread would be pretty good if you want a vegetarian version.  Some peppery arugula would be a wonderful addition, but I don’t have any greens of any kind in the house right now. *hangs head in shame*

This was plenty delicious just like this.  In fact, I wish I had another one.

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