Sunday, August 7, 2011

the best rigatoni and meatballs ever

i have a morning husband brings me a cup of coffee in bed, monday thru friday...i scoot up against the headboard and turn on the tv and watch molto mario every morning....the crazy operatic voice screeches as the music plays...mario inspires me every day.  i don't write any of it down .... picking up ideas and techniques.  one saturday morning, flipping through the channels tyler florence is traveling to italy for meatball inspiration....his first stop is a gorgeous house outside of naples where an italian grandma demonstrates her secret meatballs.....i watch the entire segment.....mesmerized (i know i am a nerd).....i make a mental note to put this recipe on my list....i don't watch the rest of the show...i don't care what tyler does in his ultimate version.  i am making the italian lady's i get some really nice fresh ground pork and beef at the butcher and do some searching to find that recipe polpette napoletane.....(note: the food network picture of the meatballs looks like some kind of asian deep fried thing....ignore it) this is the first time making it so i follow every step with every ingredient i can find....i can not get buffalo mozzarella so as mario says get the best of what you can get locally so i buy some fresh mozzarella made in new haven.  
yep chunks of fresh mozzarella inside! ahhh
recipe after the jump
  • 2 slices stale white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces minced beef and pork, equal amounts
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 2 ounces pecorino, grated
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh mozzarella, drained and chopped into little pieces
  • unseasoned bread crumbs
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
  • put the bread in a small mixing bowl, cover with milk, and leave to soak.
    chop the parsley and garlic together. put meat into a large mixing bowl. squeeze the milk out of the bread and add to meat. add parsley and garlic. use your hands to mix the ingredients. break eggs into the mixture to bind it. keep mixing. add the pecorino. season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. shape meatballs by hand, make a hole in the top and insert a small piece of mozzarella. cover it up and pat meatball into shape. roll them in bread crumbs. pour olive oil into a frying pan and when it's really hot, fry the meatballs for 5 minutes, or until they have formed a crust. then turn over. when golden brown and crusty on both sides remove the meatballs from the pan and drain on paper towels.
    tomato sauce (i always use mario's basic sauce)
    mario sauce
    - 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    - 1 spanish onion chopped in 1/4 inch dice
    - 4 garlic cloves
    - 3 tbps chopped fresh thyme leaves
    - 1/2 medium carrot
    - 2 28 ounce cans of san marzano tomatoes  (i always add some sugar to taste)

    step one - heat up the olive oil over medium heat, add onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown (not burned!) 8-10 minutes. i love using le creuset pots for making sauce, but be careful because they get hot very quickly!
    step two - add thyme and carrot, cook for 5 more minutes
    step three - add tomatoes (crush in your hand over the pot) and their juice, bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. remove the pot from the heat and buzz with the immersion blender here.
    step four - season with salt and serve or save!
    the simmering meatballs created a fantastic flavor to the sauce
    put the meatballs in a large dutch oven and add the finished tomato sauce to just cover the meat balls, cover and cook very slowly on low heat for 45 minutes. i cooked a pound of rigatoni according to package directions....tossed the rigatoni in the pot with the plain sauce then served the rigatoni up in pasta bowls with the meatballs on top.  added some freshly grated parm cheese and sliced baguettes.  seriously this is the best italian dish i have ever made....wonderful!  
    Bailey loved it too!

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