Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pasta al forno w/tiny meatballs

Monday I made the meatballs and sauce, and Tuesday assembled the pasta. John pronounced it good, I liked it too, and Mark ate some when he got home from the town meeting about the downtown arts district - we'd like ours to be more like Chicago's Millennium Park.

But here's the recipe -

1 pound ground beef
1/4 pound pork sausage
3/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs ("fresh" means the bread can be stale, but the crumbs are still soft, and not toasted)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 heaping TBLS basil pesto, homemade if you have it
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients and mix well, using a stand mixer or your hands. Roll into tiny - 1/2 diameter, about - meatballs, arranging them in rows on a large baking sheet. (Marcella says to pinch off bits of meat the size of a raspberry, and that you can roll them two at a time on the palm of your hand, three at a time if you are good with your hands) Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes until browned.

3 roasted red peppers (I used peppers that I roasted last fall and froze, jarred ones, a 7 - 10 ounce jar would work fine)
2 cups of peeled and seeded Roma tomatoes (again, I used tomatoes I froze last fall, but a 28 ounce can would work fine here)
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregrano
1 1/4 cups half & half
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Purée the peppers, tomatoes and garlic in a food processor or blender. Pour the purée into a wide deep skillet, crumble the oregano in, and cook over medium high heat until all the liquid has boiled off, about 30 minutes. Add the half and half, stir well, and cook until slightly reduced, probably 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the meatballs.

For the dish:
Boil 1 pound of dried rigatoni in salted water until it's slightly undercooked - harder than al dente. Drain the pasta. Mix the sauce, hot pasta, 2 TBLS butter, and a couple of handfuls of finely-grated Asiago cheese (2/3 cup). Spread the mixture into a casserole dish, top with a light layer of bread crumbs, and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the dish to settle for 5 - 10 minutes before eating.

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