Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fettuccine with Meatballs

Last night's dinner came to us by way of the lovely Nigella Lawson, my culinary pick as adopted big sister (if Ina Garten is my culinary adopted mother). I tweaked the recipe a bit, and sadly did not make my own pasta. I find that De Cecco makes the best dried pasta out there, so I used that.

This is a wonderful dish, the tiny meatballs are coated by the simple, pureed sauce. Chris was (and is, for leftovers), a big fan. Before getting into the instructions, I want to second Lawson's reccomendation that you make the meatballs pretty small--about a heaping teaspoon. It is a bit tedious, but you can kind of zone out and make a whole batch of them in less than 20 minutes.

Fettuccine with Meatballs
serves 4-6

for the meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef
2 mild Italian sausage links, removed from their casings
1 egg
1-2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tsp dried oregano
2-3 Tbsp fine bread crumbs
pinch freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt

Use your hands to mix everything in a large bowl, making sure to break up the sausage and really combine it with the ground beef. Shape the meat mixture into small balls, then place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Refrigerate until you are ready to use them.

for the tomato sauce:

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 14-oz. cans petite diced tomatoes
.5 cup of water
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper
.25 cup half & half
1 lb. fettuccine
parmesan cheese, for grating

Pulse the onions, garlic, and oregano in a food processor (or blender), until it becomes a uniform pulp. Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan, then dump the onion mixture in and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until soft and fragrant.

While the onions are cooking, rinse your food processor/blender briefly, then dump the canned tomatoes and their jucies in. Puree until smooth. Add to the cooked onion mixture, along with the water, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. You should have a kind of thin sauce, it will thicken up later.

Stir in the half & half, then drop the meatballs in one by one. Make sure to not stir the sauce until the meatballs have turned from pink to brown, or you might break them up and end up with meat sauce. Partially cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.

Give the meatballs a stir and simmer uncovered for another 5 minutes (you may want a splatter guard, the tomato sauce is messy). Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve over pasta and top with lots of parmesan cheese.

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