I chose this recipe because Kevin's daughter was coming for dinner and she had told me she like spaghetti. I was excited to find something that I could cook that would not only make her happy, but also be from the "365 No Repeats" book. Unfortunately she didn't make it for dinner, but we liked what we had.
Sometimes the ingredients that Rachael puts in her recipes drive me crazy. I know she says that she lives in a small town and her store carries these things but my stores a lot of the time DON'T, and that makes me nuts. I mean nuttier than I already am. The one in this recipe was the bucatini pasta. I had seen her use this pasta on 30 Minute Meals and thought it would be interesting however, I hadn't been able to find pappardelle pasta anywhere until just recently. I was determined to not be negative about the hunt for this elusive pasta and off I went into the gray skies and drizzle to complete my quest.
As I began to scour the pasta isle of the store, I started getting more and more depressed thinking I was not going to be able to find a major part of this meal (I mean it is in the name of the recipe for God's sake!) I had to be able to find this pasta! Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a pasta that looked like spaghetti but much thicker. Ok I knew bucatini is this hollow spaghetti so I snatched up the bag like it was a pot of gold. Much to my dismay, when I turned the package over the pasta was called perciatelli. My smile fell and my frustration grew. I must have gone through every single type of pasta they had at the store, and was just about to give up and buy regular spaghetti and issue my apologies when a light bulb went off in my head. I grabbed my trusty iPhone and jumped on Google. I did a search for perciatelle pasta and the very first one said perciatelli a fun spaghetti like noodle with a tiny hole running through it YAY!!! DING DING DING I found it. After I did my little happy dance, and the lady down the isle looked at me like I shouldn't be drinking this early in the day. I purchased my little treasure and away we went, home to make a wonderful meal with this exciting new treat. I know it is crazy that I am this excited about pasta right? I need to get out more.
I followed this recipe very closely. I think that the meatballs need another egg or less bread crumbs because mine had a hard time staying together. They also need to cook longer in the oven. I cooked mine for the exact amount of time the recipe said and they were not cooked all the way through. My answer to that was to place them in with the sauce and cover the pot so they could finish cooking that way. It didn't help the problem of them not staying in one piece, in fact it probably added to the problem, but they were nicely cooked and took on a lot of the sauce, which we all really liked. All in all we felt it was very tasty. The bucatini pasta was fun. We all acted like little kids slurping sauce through the noodles. I like any recipe that makes you have fun!
I really need to get some different plates, the plain white is getting boring for all of the pictures. Although it does make the food the focus, so we will see.
Big Beef Balls with Bucatini
- coarse salt
- 1 pound bucatini (thick hollow spaghetti)
- 1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup Italian style bread crumbs ( a couple of overflowing handfuls)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus some to pass at the table
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- fresh black pepper
- 3 tablespoons EVOO, plus some for drizzling
- 1 small to medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, San Marzano variety if available
- 1/2 fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
- 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
- 12 cremini (baby portabello) mushrooms caps, chopped
- 1/2 beef stock
Preheat the oven to 400. Heat a large pot of water to a boil.
Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Cook onions in 1 tablespoon of the EVOO for 5 minutes. Remove the onions and set them aside to cool. In a large bowl, mix the meat with half of the onions, 3 cloves of the chopped garlic, the egg, bread crumbs, cheese, allspice, capers, sage, a handful of chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and a healthy drizzle of EVOO. Score the meat into 4 sections and make three very large balls from each section. Arrange the 12 balls on a nonstick cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes until firm, but not hard.
Add salt to the boiling water and drop the bucatini in, cook to al dente. Drain the pasta.
While the pasta and meatballs are cooking, heat another tablespoon of the EVOO in the skillet in which the onions were cooked. Add the pancetta and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the remaining garlic and the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add the remaining onions back and deglaze the pan with the red wine, cook for 1 minute, add the beef stock, and whisk up any brown bits. Stir in the tomatoes and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining parsley. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Toss the pasta with half of the sauce. Remove the meatballs from the oven and add to the remaining sauce, turning to coat. Serve 3 meatballs per person alongside the pasta. Spoon any remaining sauce over the pasta. Pass extra cheese at the table. Serve with a green salad.