Albóndigas de Ricotta (Argentine Ricotta Balls) Recipe

Why It Works

  • Pecorino Romano’s excessive melting level permits the balls to keep up their constructions.
  • A putanesca-like sauce kicks up the dish’s in any other case delicate flavors.

The primary time I ate an albóndiga de ricotta, it was an accident. My dinner associate and I had been at our neighborhood bodegón, Albamonte, a sixty year-old, Italo-Hispano restaurant in the midst of Buenos Aires. We’d already made it midway via a bottle of wine when the waiter approached the desk to announce that the kitchen had run out of lasagna. We would have liked to order one thing else. The waiter planted himself firmly on the head of the desk and stared blankly into the eating room while itemizing off each single dish on the menu over the din of the complete home. A world of various pastas, sauces, appetizers, breaded meats, shellfish, and pizzas blended into each other, neither of us positive the place the identify of 1 dish ended and the subsequent started. I heard “albóndigas” and “ricotta,” yelped “¡ese!” and felt the knot in my abdomen dissolve because the waiter traipsed again to the kitchen. 

“I’m sorry. I let the stress get the very best of me,” I instructed Evy. “I don’t even like ricotta very a lot.”

We assumed we had been ordering albóndigas con ricotta, not pondering via the vital distinction between the Spanish prepositions ‘con’ and ‘de’: meatballs with (con) ricotta versus balls comprised of (de) ricotta. Meatballs are a typical dish throughout Buenos Aires’ conventional restaurant scene; locations that lean extra in the direction of Spanish roots spoon them over rice whereas the Italians serve them smothered in crimson sauce. 

Critical Eats / Vicky Wasik

The waiter shortly returned with a metallic dish that seemed just like the latter: A trio of breaded balls and a effervescent tomato sauce. Sans ricotta. 

“Wait, however?” Evy began. Earlier than she may end her sentence, the waiter had already disappeared. 

We dug in and realized our error when our forks supplied little resistance to disclose a fluffy, eggshell white inside. The meatball is the ricotta, we laughed. It was divine: delicate, flavored with specks of herbs and nutmeg, and the right automobile to shovel a thick, garlicky crimson sauce onto our style buds. We completed proper as our waiter returned with our subsequent plate. 

I had quite a lot of questions: The place was this dish from? Why had I by no means seen it earlier than? What do they use to bind the ricotta? Are the breadcrumbs and ricotta seasoned with the identical spices? I may’ve continued however the waiter shrugged his shoulders, instructed us, “Yeah, they’re actually good,” and moved to the subsequent desk.

Critical Eats / Vicky Wasik

After a bland first try at residence, it was abundantly clear that ricotta is just like tempeh or tofu: It’s an ingredient that gives texture greater than taste. I needed to overwhelm it with loud herbs and spices, and high it with an equally boisterous sauce. I known as María Antonieta Brignardello, a third-generation pasta maker and proprietor of vegan pasta enterprise Potoca. She really useful that I begin with the holy trinity of abuela-style Argentine cooking: nutmeg, white pepper, and paprika. Potoca additionally serves their pasta with dietary yeast flavored with completely different herbs—it was an concept that impressed me so as to add a second cheese to mine, one with a saltier taste that the ricotta lacks. 

I attempted a wide range of cheeses to see which I favored greatest. I knew I didn’t need a contemporary or delicate cheese that may soften down and disintegrate as soon as it hit the warmth. It wanted to remain agency and maintain the feel of a meatball. Pecorino Romano, with its excessive melting level, supplied the suitable sharp cheese taste with out breaking down and sacrificing the balls’ construction. To finish my flavor-boosting mission, I accented the ricotta combination with contemporary parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice.

The unique dish was served with a easy crimson sauce however to proceed to kick up flavors, I made a decision to serve mine with a putanesca-like sauce, thick with tomato, chunky black olives, and capers. The ultimate end result wasn’t a mirror picture of that very first chunk again at Albamonte, however it had the shock scrumptious issue all the identical.

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