Meatballs al Forno

Circle B Kitchen

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence

Meatball ingredients

1/2 baguette, crust removed, torn into small pieces (about 1 2/3 cups)

½ cup milk

1 lb ground meat

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 extra large egg

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/4 cup ground pine nuts (about 1/3 cup whole)

1 tsp sea salt and ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 cup dried bread crumbs

1/2 pound chanterelle or crimini mushrooms, chunked

2 pints vine-ripened small tomatoes (or one 14-oz can whole tomatoes)

1 large or 2 medium balls of fresh mozzarella (or ½ lb gouda cheese, sliced)

Creamy Polenta, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Soak the bread pieces in a bowl with the milk for 10 minutes until the bread is soft. In a second bowl add ¼ cup of the chopped parsley and all of the chopped basil to the meat. Add garlic and mix thoroughly with your hands. Squeeze the milk out of the bread and add it to the meat mixtre. Add the eggs, Parmesan, ground pine nuts, salt, and pepper and mix everything together thoroughly. Shape into large meatballs, then roll them in the bread crumbs.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat until it begins to smoke slightly. Fry the meatballs to seal the crust, turning them so all the sides are done. Transfer to a large baking dish.

Empty out all but a tablespoon or so of oil from your pan and saute the mushrooms on low heat until they start to caramelize. Cut the tomatoes in 1/2 and hand-crush them into a separate bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Add some salt and a few cranks of fresh cracked pepper and mix. Stir the tomatoes into the mushrooms. Let everything simmer together and reduce slightly for about 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and then pour the sauce over the meatballs. Sprinkle the meatballs with the remaining parsley and top with the sliced mozzarella. Drizzle a little with olive oil and add a few cranks of pepper. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes.

Serve with Creamy Polenta.

Creamy Polenta

1 quart chicken stock

1 1/2 cups finely ground cornmeal

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

3 tablespoons whole butter

Pinch sea salt

In a large saucepan bring the chicken stock to a slow simmer. Quickly whisk the cornmeal into the stock. Stir in the cream, Parmesan, butter, and salt. Continue to stir and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the polenta is completely cooked and very creamy. Turn off the heat and keep in a warm place until the meatballs are ready.

Yield: 4 servings