Sunday, December 27, 2009

Baked Ziti and Meatballs: Sopranos Style

For the Meatballs
1 pound ground beef or a combination of beef and pork
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs, preferably homemade
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon very finely minced garlic
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl. Mix together thoroughly. Rinse your hands with cool water and lightly shape the mixture into 2-inch balls. (Note: If you are making meatballs for lasagne or baked ziti, shape the meat into tiny balls the size of a small grape.)

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the meatballs and brown them well on all sides. Transfer the meatballs to a plate.

Note:  The recipe goes on to say that you should finish cooking the meatball in the sauce . . . we didn't do that.

Thank goodness for comfort food.  I imagine that when an Italian girl eats baked ziti, she feels the way some people (Meredith) feel about macaroni and cheese.  I had made sauce a while ago and froze it, so I knew this wasn’t going to be an all day affair.  It might as well have been.  I defrosted two pounds of meat so I doubled the recipe.  Anyone know how many grape sized meatballs that makes?  A LOT!  That’s how many.  Also, I added hot Italian sausage to my baked ziti.  So, after cooking three batches of mini meatballs, I cut up some sausage and cooked it in a frying pan.  I've made this so many times before so I already knew how delicious it would be.  What’s not to like about pasta, sauce, cheese, meatballs and sausage?  I loved it, as always.

Mmmm... mac & cheese! Oh wait- that’s not what we were making? Italian Mac & Cheese! Close enough I suppose. Let’s get down to it: I, too, had sauce already made and in the freezer (non-Italians do this too!) so that part was done. I made the meatballs for Christmas dinner so they were already done too. So what DID I do today? Oh- I boiled pasta and grated cheese. But let me go back to the meatballs – they were absolutely delicious. It took a batch, but I finally figured out how to get the meatballs browned on all sides and not to stick to the pan. That I’m very proud of. I may make them my signature dish. Don’t tell Tony.

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