Michael Symon Has A Secret Ingredient For His Meatballs

There's nothing worse than biting into a meatball only to find out that it's tough and dense instead of moist and tender. However, celebrity chef Michael Symon has never had that problem, and it's all thanks to one crucial ingredient. Though most people use breadcrumbs to keep the texture of their meatballs soft, Symon told TODAY that he relies primarily on ricotta cheese. Though Symon does use breadcrumbs in his recipe, it's the panko variety instead, and he only includes half as much of it as the ricotta cheese.

According to Symon, the addition of ricotta, a technique he learned from his Greek-Sicilian mother, is effective in making meatballs juicy because it increases the fat content. "My mom used to make these all the time when I was growing up," Symon recalled in the interview. "They remind me of home and they're full of flavor. The ricotta cheese makes the meatballs incredibly soft and moist."

How much ricotta should you add to meatballs?

Soft meatballs are ideal, but you don't want them to be so soft that they fall apart before you even get a chance to serve them. To prevent ricotta from making your meatballs soggy, stick to Michael Symon's ratio of 1½ pounds of ground meat to 1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese.

Whether it be a combination of beef, pork, and veal, like in Symon's recipe, or 100% ground turkey for a low-cal alternative, meat plays a major role in ensuring the meatball stays in one piece during the cooking process, Good Food explains. The meat is kneaded before forming meatballs, which releases proteins. The proteins form a matrix that provides structure to the ingredients that can't otherwise hold their shapes, such as the ricotta, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Again, balance is key, so just make sure there's enough meat mixed in because ricotta can literally make or break your meatballs.