DEC 16, 2010 // BROOKLYN BASED

Recipe Card: Salvatore Bklyn

One taste of  Salvatore Bklyn’s smoked ricotta on a crostini at the Unfancy Food Show a few years ago and I was smitten. Topped with a thin slice of prosciutto, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse salt, it was the perfect bite. Made with local whole milk from an upstate dairy co-op, their small batch ricotta is creamy, rich and worlds apart from the stuff on most supermarket shelves. And smoked–a stroke of genius! I went back for  seconds, but of course they’d sold out.

The owners, Betsy Levine and Rachel Mark, got into the ricotta biz after  meeting a man named Salvatore at a little enoteca in San Gimignano, Italy. They liked his gusto for life and his ricotta, and “after a meal high in saturated fats followed by fitful sleep, had an idea to start a ricotta cheese company.”

Back in Brooklyn, they started experimenting in the kitchen at Lunetta, where Betsy worked as a sous chef. After good feedback at the  restaurant, they branched out to selling in retail locations like Marlow & Sons and Stinky Bklyn. Now they have a production space in Clinton Hill and cheese is full time for Betsy, while Rachel continues to work a day job at a wine importer.

Betsy says she misses the intensity of working the line in a professional  kitchen, but running her business has it’s own punishing demands.  Spanning her two worlds is a recipe for an unusual meatloaf from her days at Lunetta. She explains:

“I love me some meatballs. But when I was a restaurant cook making family  meal for the crew, I never had the time to make all the balls. So I made meatball meatloaf. One of the best secrets about really good meatballs  is adding a little ricotta cheese, so here is my pork and ricotta  meatloaf. Serve with a nice and parmesan-y polenta or grits.”

Pork and Ricotta Meatloaf with Creamy Coarse Polenta

Ingredients
1 Italian sub roll (the kind you get at the Italian deli) cut into a  rough small dice (sesame seeds a plus for me, but take the crust off if  you prefer none, or get the rolls with no seeds)
1 ½ pounds good ground pork
3 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, minced
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
⅔ cup ricotta cheese (5 ounces)
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
A good healthy dash of crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
Two 28-ounce cans peeled San Marzano Italian tomatoes, whole
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large bowl add the bread, pork, pancetta, eggs, ricotta, parsley, crushed red pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Mix well. Let it hang out for a half hour or so. Pack mixture into an olive oiled meatloaf pan.

2. Open can of San Marzano tomatoes and drain them. Cut tomatoes in half and  shingle them over meatloaf mixture in pan. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. If you want, nestle a thin slice of garlic on each half too.

3. Roast the meatloaf in the oven for about 1 ½ – 2  hours, give or take. If you see the garlic or tomatoes getting a little too much color, just flip  them around to present the other side.

4. Remove loaf when cooked and let it cool a little. Garnish with a little  Parmesan. Either try to carefully remove the loaf from the pan, slice it while still in the pan, or eat directly out of it.

Polenta

Ingredients
1 quart water or stock seasoned with salt
1 cup coarse polenta or grits
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons of butter

Directions
1.  Bring salted water or stock if you have it up to a boil. Add coarse ground polenta or grits (Anson Mills is great).

2. Turn the heat down to medium and allow to cook (around 40 minutes),  stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent sticking, burning,  clumps.

3. Add more water or stock if needed. When polenta is tender and cooked,  fold in Parmesan and butter and check if it needs salt.

Finishing
I like to use a shallow bowl. Spoon some of the polenta in the bowl. Add a healthy slice of meatloaf on top. Be sure to add some of the oven  roasted tomatoes and whatever delicious pork juice that is left at the  bottom of the meatloaf pan.

As seen on Brooklyn Based.