Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bucatini All'Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs

Bucatini All'Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs (Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

For the meatballs

1/3 cup grated onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup bread crumbs
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
fresh ground black pepper
8 ounces ground sirloin
8 ounces ground turkey
2 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 18 cubes

For the sauce

1 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces diced pancetta
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
14.5 ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
fresh ground black pepper
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
16 ounces dry bucatini pasta

To prepare the meatballs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack set in the lower 1/3 of the oven.

In a large bowl, stir together onion, parsley, Parmesan, bread crumbs, garlic, ketchup, egg, salt, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano and pepper. Add in beef and turkey - combine ingredients just until combined, being careful to not over-mix.

Shape the mixture into 18 meatballs and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make an indent in the center of each meatball and set a cube of mozzarella inside. Reform the meatball around the mozzarella so it is completely hidden. Place into the oven and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

To prepare the sauce

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add pancetta - cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and transfer to paper-towel lined plate. Sit in the onion - cook until softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes - cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and reserved pancetta - season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Simmer over medium-low, uncovered, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add sauce and meatballs, tossing gently to coat. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Just before serving, scatter on additional Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley.

Makes about 6 servings.

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  1. "Jeff isn't the biggest fan of using raw onions in meatballs (textural issue)."
    Jeff, I've found that my daughters who don't like cabbage or celery will eat them in soups and stews, etc. if I've grated them (I use my food processor).
    Another excellent recipe - the comments and pictures that you provide when you talk about your recipes make them not only more interesting, but easier to accomplish. Thanks.

    - Rock

  2. Joe, don't the meatballs come out tiny if you just use 1 tablespoon? And I think I'd have to double the sauce or I'd get complaints from the family. Have to try this soon. Thanks.

  3. Rock - I'll have to keep that in mind!

    Beth - a "tablespoon" cookie scoop is actually a bit bigger than your average tablespoon. Using a heaping scoop, the meatballs were plenty big enough for us.