Cooking Meatballs With Chef Jimmy Bannos

Each week, NBC Chicago teams up with local chefs for a lesson in cooking. This week, Chef Jimmy Bannos from the Purple Pig shows us how to make meatballs. 

Ricotta Cheese and Green Garlic Puree

2 bunches green garlic
1 (15 oz.) tub ricotta cheese
2 tsp roasted garlic
2 tsp lemon juice
cream (to taste)
2 tbsp chives, diced fine
2 tsp lemon zest

1. Dice the green garlic fine and char well on the grill.

2. Combine the ricotta, roasted garlic, and lemon juice in a blender. Add cream slowly and work in with a spoon until just smooth and creamy, but not liquid.

3. Fold the grilled green garlic, chives and lemon zest into the puree and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.


1 cup white onions, diced
2 1/2 lb pork shoulder meat, ground
6 oz. beef chuck, ground
6 oz. pork jowl or belly, ground
6 oz. veal belly, ground
4 eggs
1/3 cup roasted garlic, pureed
2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp ground fennel
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp dry oregano
2 tbsp fresh thyme, picked and chopped
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cup milk
12 oz ricotta cheese


1. Sweat the onions in a pan over medium heat until they are just soft, but not browned.

2. Mix together the ground pork, beef, and veal with the egg, garlic, and onions. In a separate bowl, mix the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, herbs, chili flakes, and parmesan cheese. Combine the two mixtures and stir until combined.

3. Add the melted butter and milk and stir to combine. Then fold in the ricotta cheese.

4. Using an ice cream scoop (or by hand) portion the meatballs into tight 2 ½ oz. balls and place on a parchment lined sheet tray.

5. Brown the meatballs in a 500°F oven (or under the broiler) for about 10 minutes. Finish cooking the meatballs in a pre-heated pan of red tomato sauce on the stove. Cook covered for 10 minutes over medium heat, or until meatballs are cooked through. Cool any extra meatballs in the sauce.

Brioche Crackers
1. Thinly slice a loaf of brioche bread, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake in 325°F until crispy and golden, but not brown, about 10 minutes.

To assemble:

1. Spread one 2oz scoop of the ricotta puree on a plate and top with three meatballs. Finished with red sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, brioche cracker.

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