Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bucatini All'Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs

Well, this is it. Tomorrow, I officially become a mother of 2. This time around, it's quite different. I feel better prepared, ready for the challenge and joy of having a newborn. I'm not entirely sure how my 2-year-old will respond, but I think she'll do ok once she comes to grips with the fact that mommy can't pick her up for awhile.

There's one thing for sure: my freezer is stocked: sauces, chili, burgers, quick meals. (So the blogging may suffer for a bit...) Last time around, I didn't take this step. I thought I'd have time to cook - silly, silly, delusional me.

I'm still working but my last meeting ends in 90 minutes. Come 5 o'clock, I'm off til the New Year. Seems far off, but it'll no doubt fly by as I watch little peanut grow and grow and spend some extra time with big sister.

Hopefully I'll be back in the kitchen soon. In the meantime, here's a new favorite that sounds difficult but is actually pretty east to make. Excuse the less than stellar photos...

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Bucatini All'Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs
Adapted from Giada at Home by Giada de Laurentiis

All'Amatriciana Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, diced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Meatballs:
1 small (6-ounce) onion, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/4 cup
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup
1/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1 large egg
2 tablespoons ketchup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground veal
2 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 16 (1/2-inch) cubes
1 pound bucatini or other long pasta

For the sauce: In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and reserve. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and the cooked pancetta. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the meatballs: Position an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, 1/2 cup parsley, 2/3 cup Parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the beef and veal. Using your hands, combine all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Shape the meat mixture into 16 (1 1/2-inch-diameter) meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Make a hole in the center of each meatball and place a cube of mozzarella inside. Reform the meatball so that the mozzarella is completely covered with the meat mixture. Bake the meatballs for 15 minutes until cooked through.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl. Add the meatballs and sauce. Toss gently and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and Parmesan.
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