Cheesy Dry-Aged Meatballs

Cuisine TypeItalian
Cheesy Dry-Aged Meatballs

Chef Danny Grant

Maple & Ash


Steaks and other cuts of beef are the specialty at Maple & Ash in Chicago, so the kitchen usually has a good supply of top-grade meat trim on hand. Chef Danny Grant grinds together pieces of dry-aged chuck, brisket and tri-tip, then combines the ground beef with aromatics, herbs and three different cheeses—fontina, Parmesan and ricotta—for the base of these signature meatballs. Once baked, the meatballs are topped with marinara and either cheese curds or shredded Parmesan. Serve with garlic bread to dip into the sauce.


Marinara sauce

2 cans (28 oz. each) peeled, chopped tomatoes

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. red chili flakes

2 basil sprigs

1 tsp. salt


1 lb. dry-aged ground beef (chuck, brisket and tritip)

½ onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

¼ cup cubed fontina cheese

¼ cup cubed bread

1 egg

2 tbsp. milk

2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

½ sprig thyme, stem discarded

½ sprig oregano, stem discarded

½ tbsp. salt

½ tbsp. ground pepper

2 tbsp. ricotta cheese

½ tsp. red wine

¾ cup cheese curds


1. For sauce: With hands, crush tomatoes in bowl; reserve liquid.

2. In saucepan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil to shimmering. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is translucent. Add crushed tomatoes and reserved liquid; reduce heat to low and simmer 45 minutes.

3. Add basil, salt and chili flakes. Cook for 20 minutes longer on low heat. Remove basil and set aside.

4. While sauce is cooking, prepare meatballs: In large bowl, combine ground beef, onions, garlic and fontina cheese. In blender container, combine bread, egg, milk, grated Parmesan, red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper; blend on low speed until smooth.

5. Add contents of blender to beef mixture; fold in gently, adding ricotta and wine as you go.

6. Preheat oven to 400 F. Form mixture into 1½-inch meatballs. Place in cast iron skillet and bake 10 minutes until crispy and cooked through.

7. Top meatballs with marinara sauce and cheese curds. Bake 3 to 4 minutes longer until cheese is partially melted.

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