Today I slogged to the office after an early-morning shovel. But there was barely anyone else there, and I was cold, wet, and dreaming of bed and comfort food. So all I did, as I answered emails and wrote up technical documents, was fantasize about meatballs. Honey chipotle meatballs. Classic Italian meatballs in tomato sauce. Vietnamese steamed meatballs. Nestled in Indian curry. Sticky-sweet with barbecue sauce. Fiery with Sriracha. Heavens above!
After work I rushed to the grocery store. I decided to riff on the Swedish meatball, adjusting to suit my taste, my cupboards, and my healthful eating plans. And they turned out AMAZING. Behold!
Now I’m not gonna tell you something is DELICIOUS when in fact, it’s only “tasty, considering it isn’t terrible for you.” But these aren’t just for feeding your gluten-free, low-fat, paleo friends. These babies are for your foodie friends too, or possibly for your grandparents! (Just don’t get carried away with the vegetarians, lactose-intolerant, or Kosher-keepers. These are not for them.)
Redolent with warm aromatic spices, tender from ricotta cheese, and nestled in a meaty caramelized onion gravy, these are phenomenal over rice or mashed potatoes with a side of peas, retro-style. Go on, try them!
Swedish-Inspired Ricotta Meatballs in Onion Gravy
1 lb. ground beef (96% lean)
1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
1 large onion
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 cup fat-free milk or water (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
2 cups beef broth
2 tbsp. whole wheat flour (or GF flour blend or sweet rice flour)
2 tbsp. vinegar (apple cider, rice, or white wine)
2 tbsp. ketchup
Preheat the oven to 350. Quarter the onion and mince one quarter. Reserve the rest.
In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil and cook the minced onion until translucent. Combine beef, ricotta, minced cooked onion, parsley, egg, nutmeg, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and water/milk (if using) in a large bowl. With a spoon or your hands, stir the mixture until evenly dispersed and it begins to look a bit sticky.
Roll the meat mixture into balls – I like them about one inch wide – and place on a rimmed, foil-lined baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes (depending on meatball size) or until nicely brown. Set aside.
While the meatballs bake, slice the remaining onion thinly. Heat the rest of the olive oil over medium and add the onions, stirring until golden. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to combine; cook about 2 minutes more. Stirring constantly, drizzle in beef broth, scraping the bottom of the pot for brown bits. Stir in ketchup and vinegar.
Add the meatballs and bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Simmer gently, uncovered, until the meatballs are cooked through and the gravy has reduced, about 15 minutes. DEVOUR!