7 Jun 2016
Is there any dish more classic than spaghetti and meatballs? Here we're making fresh tomato sauce and meatballs and adding them to pappardelle for a slight variation on the classic. This is partially a 'guest post', not pictured is an old friend who helped me cook this dish and plenty of wine!
For this dish I'm recalling some of the exact ingredient amounts from memory. You can always consult the original recipes, but the most important part here is to taste as you go, and add more salt / garlic / herbs / etc as you like. It's hard to go wrong here! We used 12oz of fresh pasta for 3 servings and had leftover sauce and meatballs; I estimate we made enough for roughly 5 servings.
Loosely based on the FoodWishes recipe. There's a fair amount of room for interpretation and experimentation when making tomato sauce - we substituted or omitted a number of things (notably celery and sugar), but using San Marzano tomatoes here is really important. San Marzano tomatoes are a variety of plum tomato from Italy with a brilliant sweet flavor and not too much acidity, and are often considered some of the best in the world to use in sauce. To me this simple sauce is all about highlighting the essence of tomato flavor. In our case we used a canned smooth puree variety from Whole Foods that looks something like this, but you can also use canned whole tomatoes and puree them to your liking yourself.
Don't be freaked out by the addition of anchovy paste - it's used as a secret flavor booster here. Rest assured that your sauce won't taste anything like fish.
1 28oz can San Marzano tomato puree
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 Tbsp tomato paste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped basil
We made our meatballs with a mixture of pork and beef, but you can tweak the components and ratios to your liking. In our case we used 85% lean meat. Here we're going to briefly sear the meatballs in a cast-iron pan just to get a nice brown crispy exterior and then finish them in the sauce (I don't have a cast-iron skillet so I use my dutch oven. Works the same!).
3/4 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
Boil 12oz of fresh pappardelle in salted water, several minutes until al dente. Drain, retaining a splash of the pasta water. Keeping some of the starchy water here helps gives the sauce a perfect silky texture. Add the meatballs and sauce directly to the drained pasta in the pot and combine well. Chiffonade some basil leaves by stacking them, rolling them into a tight cigar shape, and thinly slicing into strips perpendicular to the roll. Plate the pasta and meatballs and top with the basil strips and plenty of grated parmesan!