Polpettini with Castelvetrano Olives
and Ricotta Salata
POGGIO RESTAURANT, SAUSALITO, CHEF BEN BALESTERI
These rich, succulent meatballs are packed with cheese and aromatics,
transforming the humble cocktail party staple into a holiday all-star.
Chef Ben Balesteri serves the meatballs in a marinara sauce,
which does double duty here as a dipping sauce. Veal and pork
are a tried-and-true Italian combo, but if you prefer to avoid
veal, then lean ground beef may be substituted.
Combine all the meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl. Knead the mixture until incorporated without overmixing. Form into 1-inch balls. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour to
set. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil and the meatballs and
brown on all sides. (Do not overcrowd the pan; if necessary brown the meatballs in
two batches. Transfer the first browned batch to a plate and repeat with remaining
meatballs.) Once all the meatballs have been browned, return them to the pan and
add the marinara sauce. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10
minutes. Garnish with ricotta salata and Castelvetrano olives. Serve with toothpicks.
Tip: For finger food, spear an olive half and a meatball with a toothpick. Garnish with
the cheese and serve with the marinara sauce for dipping.
Do-ahead: The meatballs may be formed one day in advance of serving.
1 pound ground veal
½ pound ground pork
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano
¼ cup ricotta
¼ cup minced onion
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of red chile flakes
Pinch of freshly ground black
¼ cup canola oil
8 cups marinara sauce, preferably
¼ cup rinsed Castelvetrano olives
¼ cup grated ricotta salata cheese
MAKES ABOUT 30 (1-INCH) MEATBALLS