Big Meatballs with Polenta + Salad
Why we love it:
- 11⁄2 pounds Ground Beef
- 4 cups Water
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt (divided)
- 1 cup Polenta (dried - yellow corn polenta NOT cornmeal)
- 1 Egg
- 1 cup Ricotta Cheese
- 1 cup Breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 2 Tablespoons Whole Milk (plus 1 extra cup, optional)
- 1 15-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 cup Parmesan Cheese (grated, divided)
- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 1 head Romaine Lettuce
- 2 Tablespoons Salad Dressing (vinaigrette, or oil + vinegar)
1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 425 DEGREES
Remove meat from the fridge.
Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and while whisking, slowly stream in the polenta. Don’t stop stirring gently for about 3 minutes, otherwise it will clump. Then reduce heat to medium. Once it looks smooth, you can stop stirring constantly, but for the next 30 minutes, return to whisk well every 3 - 5 minutes. Scrape the bottom and edges of the pan.
3. MEATBALL MIX
In a large bowl, combine the meat, egg, ricotta, breadcrumbs, oregano, and 2 Tablespoons milk. Add 1 teaspoon of salt for every pound of meat (for example, you would add 1 ½ teaspoons here if you made this with 1 ½ pounds of meat). Using clean fingertips, mix together until it’s all homogeneous.
In a medium saucepan, add the crushed tomatoes and about ½ cup of water. Add a pinch of salt. Heat until gently simmering.
On a lined, rimmed baking sheet, pour the olive oil. Rub your palms with a bit, and form meatballs with ¼ - ⅓ cup of meat per meatball. Roll until nicely round and place on the sheet. Repeat with the rest. Be sure they're all well coated with the oil.
Place in the oven, near the bottom 3rd. Roast for about 7 minutes, then slide out and roll them over. After 7 more minutes remove from the oven and transfer to the simmering tomato sauce.
After the polenta has been boiling for about 20 minutes, add 1 additional cup of liquid (milk, half & half, cream, stock or water). Whisk well. Add all but a few Tablespoons of parmesan (set aside for garnish). Whisk, and taste carefully to check for salt. You might prefer more salt, add up to an additional teaspoon as needed. It’s done after about 30 - 40 total minutes of cooking. It will be pale yellow and very creamy and soft. Add the butter and whisk to combine. It can sit for 30 minutes covered.
Toss lettuce with vinaigrette. Plate a scoop of polenta and top with a meatball and spoon over some sauce. Top with parmesan cheese to taste.