Monday, September 17, 2007

Rigatoni with Meatballs - Presto Pasta Night

I've been making meatballs for like I don't know...ever. When I was dating my husband Frank, he made for me and a few friends his grandmother's meatballs. Come to think of it, I do believe that was the last time he cooked for me! Well, I was impressed and after we were married, we combined our cookbooks and loose recipes together. Handwritten on an index card was the meatball recipe, passed down from his grandmother to his mother and then to me.
Frank's Italian grandmother took her cooking seriously. Her recipes were taught my my mother in law personally so her son would not miss her cooking. While not in person, I learned from her meatball recipe what makes the meatball turn out tender and savory. First, use fresh bread crumbs and milk/cream. No dried pre-made bread crumbs from a container. Next, use garlic salt. I don't know what it is, but there's something about garlic salt whose flavor surpasses powdered garlic and salt. Perhaps it's the blend whereby the ratio of garlic to salt is just perfect. All I know is that it works.
Here's my recipe, inspired by grandmom, and made my own. They are tender, moist and delicious. Makes about 28 meatballs.


2 1/2 lbs ground beef, 80/20 lean to fat ratio
1 tbsp. each:
dried basil
dried onion flakes
dried marjoram
dried oregano
dried shallot flakes (optional)

pinch cinnamon
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (I used white bread with crusts, about 4-5 slices)
1/2 cups each:
half and half

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs gently beaten
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place ground beef in large mixing bowl. Add herbs, cinnamon, bread crumbs, Parmesan, eggs, parsley, half and half, milk and water. Gently combine. Do not overwork meat. Add salt and pepper. Mix throughout meat.

Into a heated pan, cook a small patty of the meatball mixture to test for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Gently hand roll golf ball sized meatballs and place onto an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Treat surface with non-stick spray. Place meatballs at least one inch apart.

Place baking sheet( I used 2 half sheet pans)on racks set in the middle of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotates sheets upper rack to bottom rack and vice versa. Bake and additional 15 minutes. The meatballs should be golden brown.

Transfer meatballs into gently simmering marinara on stove top. Cover and continue to simmer on low for 30 minutes to an hour.

While meatballs are simmering, cook pasta according to directions. Drain pasta and portion into bowls. Top with meatballs, marinara, grated Parmesan cheese and parsley.



Ruth Daniels said...

What a great story and fantastic recipe. Thanks for sharing a family treasure with Presto Pasta Nights.

Ramona said...

It was SO exciting to see my meatballs shown on Presto Pasta Night, along with some amazing other pics, recipes and stories. I'm looking forward to joining in again!