Aired January 28, 2014

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

4 slices stale peasant bread, trimmed of crust and coarsely chopped in processor

Milk, to moisten bread

2 pounds beef, pork and veal mix

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

A fat handful each Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped 

1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes

1 teaspoon fennel seed

2 teaspoons ground sage

2 garlic cloves, grated or pasted

3 to 4 tablespoons grated onion

2 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large egg

For the Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Salt

1 cup dry white

1 cup chicken or veal stock

3 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes

10 to 12 basil leaves, torn

1 Parm cheese rind

To serve:

1 1/2 pounds spaghetti

2 tablespoons butter

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400˚F.

For the meatballs, in a small bowl, soak bread in milk. Squeeze out excess milk and add to meat in large bowl, add remaining ingredients and roll 2 1/2-inch balls and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake to partially cook and lightly brown, 15 minutes.

For the sauce, add olive oil to a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add butter and melt. Add onions, garlic and salt, and partially cover. Sweat until very tender, 20 minutes, stirring frequently -- lower heat if onions brown.  Add wine and reduce by half; add stock and tomatoes, and break up tomatoes a bit. Bring to a bubble and reduce heat and simmer. Add basil and cheese rind, cook gently 30 minutes to thicken then add meatballs and keep at low simmer while you cook pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente.  Add a mug of cooking water to the sauce before draining pasta. Toss pasta with butter and half the sauce.  Serve in shallow bowls and top with more sauce and meatballs. Pass extra cheese at the table.  

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