Rigatoni with Meatballs

Sometimes I have to do a little convincing to get Husband on board with a new recipe.  And sometimes I just show him a picture and he grins and nods.  This was one of the latter.

This Italian feast comes from yet another excellent recipe in The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier, which was an old Christmas gift from Husband himself.  Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!  Smart man.

Substitutions: I made a few based on supplies already on hand.  In place of ground pork, I used 16 oz. ground mild Italian sausage (which was delicious) in addition to 16 oz. ground beef.  I also declined to make my own bread crumbs and used panko bread crumbs instead. #aintnobodygottimeforthat  Since I don’t care for huge pieces of tomato in my sauce, I opted for diced tomatoes rather than whole tomatoes, and I simmered it a bit longer to ensure the consistency was thick and the meatballs were thoroughly cooked.

Leftovers for dinner tonight… and I couldn’t be more excited.  I will certainly be using the freezer technique any time I make meatballs. They held together perfectly even after all the sautéing and simmering.

Here is Ree’s recipe, courtesy of Food Network.

Rigatoni with Meatballs

1 cup panko bread crumbs
16 ounces ground beef
16 ounces ground mild Italian sausage
3/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Rigatoni and Sauce:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup red wine, plus more for drinking, obviously
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Minced fresh basil to taste
1 box rigatoni, cooked al dente
Preparation Instructions
For the meatballs: Throw in the meat into a large mixing bowl. Add the bread crumbs, Parmesan, milk, parsley, garlic, eggs, salt and some pepper. Use clean hands to mix together until well blended. Take a small amount of the meat mixture and roll it in your hands to make meatballs (about 30). Place on a sheet pan and put the pan in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Working with about 10 meatballs at a time, cook them until brown on all sides but not cooked all the way through, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Remove from the pot to a plate while you make the sauce.

For the sauce: Add the garlic and onions to the meatball pot. Stir and cook until the onion begins to soften. Add the wine and cook for another minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir the sauce to combine all the ingredients. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the parsley, basil, and meatballs. Stir gently, then cover and cook for 30 more minutes, stirring once or twice until the meatballs are cooked through.

Dish the rigatoni onto large plates or bowls and pile the meatballs and sauce on the top. Sprinkle on some extra minced parsley and serve with extra grated Parmesan.


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