Pork-and-Ricotta Meatballs in Tomato Sauce


"Sometimes, on Mondays, when servers at A16 are announcing the specials, you can almost feel the excitement at the table when the waiters say, 'And of course, since it's Monday...we have meatballs,'" says Shelley Lindgren. Nate Appleman occasionally uses ground lamb, beef or veal, but these tender golf ball-size pork meatballs, which he bakes in a hearty tomato sauce, are the restaurant's classic version.

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs


  • 1/2 pound sliced white bread, crusts removed and bread cut into 1/2-inch dice (4 cups)

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground pork

  • 3 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, minced

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2/3 cup ricotta cheese (5 ounces)

  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled

  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • Kosher salt

  • Two 28-ounce cans peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons shredded basil

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, pulse the bread to coarse crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl and add the pork, pancetta, eggs, ricotta, parsley, oregano, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Mix well. Shape into 24 meatballs, using about 3 rounded tablespoons of the mixture for each. Transfer the meatballs to an oiled medium roasting pan.

  2. Roast the meatballs in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until firm and just beginning to brown. Using a spatula, loosen the meatballs from the bottom of the pan. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Lower the oven temperature to 325° and cook uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the sauce is very thick and the meatballs are very tender; turn the meatballs once or twice during cooking.

  3. Transfer the meatballs and tomato sauce to a large platter. Garnish with the basil and Pecorino and serve hot.

Make Ahead

The cooked meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat and garnish just before serving.

Suggested Pairing

These juicy meatballs are simple and delicious, words that could also easily describe many of Calabria's Cirò Rosso wines, made from the native Gaglioppo variety.

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