Tagliatelle & Meatballs

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IMG_20140902_000812[1] 01/09/2014

Mamma Mia! This is an awesome recipe that would give those Italian Mammas a run for their pizza dough.

I recently acquired a brand new bargain pasta machine after a routine rifle through the local charity shops and have been making all shapes and sizes of pasta and ravioli since. The recipe given makes loads of pasta so if you don’t need to use it all then you can just continue to dry what you don’t use until completely dry and store it in an airtight container for later use. Dry pasta has a longer cooking time than fresh pasta but this does not impact the final result at all.

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Ingredients:

 Meatballs:

  • 3/4 pounds Lean Beef Mince
  • 3/4 pounds Pork Mince
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cups Fine Bread Crumbs
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 3/4 cups Freshly Grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup Flat-leaf Parsley, Minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Splash Of Milk
  • 1 teaspoon each of ground coriander, cumin, fennel seeds
  • Olive Oil for frying

Sauce:

  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Chargrilled Red Chilli, chopped
  • 2 x 500ml cartons Passata
  • 1/2 cup White or Red Wine
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary, very finely chopped

Pasta Dough:

  • 1 ½ cups 00 Flour
  • 1 ½ cups Semolina Flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • A drizzle of Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Salt
  • A little water if needed

Method:

  1. To make the meatballs, combine meat, garlic, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, spices and a splash of milk in a mixing bowl. Mix together well. With hands, roll into 1 ½ inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet into the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.
  2. To brown the meatballs, heat olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add meatballs 8 at a time, turning to brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel after each batch. Set meatballs aside.
  3. In the same pot, add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes, or until translucent. Chargrill the chilli on the hob, put it in a bowl and cover with clingfilm for 10 minutes. Scrape the skin from the chilli then slice in half, remove most of the seeds, chop and add to the pan. (This might seem like a really long step but it is so worth the effort as it gives the sauce an incredible back heat).
  4. Pour in wine to deglaze the pan and get all those lovely burnt bits from the bottom of the pan and into the sauce. There’s tons of flavour in that bit. Add the Passata and mix to combine. Add salt, pepper, sugar, and rosemary. Stir to combine and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
  5. Add meatballs to pot and stir in gently. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring very gently a couple of times during the simmer.                                                                  IMG_20140901_174518[1]
  6. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface and make a well in the centre with your fist.
  7. Break the eggs into the well and add the oil and a pinch of salt to the well.
  8. Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour using the fingers of one hand, bringing the ingredients together into a firm dough. If the dough feels too dry, add a few drops of water; if it’s too wet, add a little more flour.
  9. Knead the pasta until smooth, 2 to 5 minutes. Pop the dough into a plastic food bag and allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The pasta will be much more elastic after resting.
  10. Pass the dough through the pasta machine. Start to feed the blob of pasta dough through the widest setting of a pasta machine. As the sheet of dough comes out of the machine, fold it into thirds and then feed it through the rollers again, still on the widest setting. Pass the dough through this setting 3 or 4 times. This effectively kneads the dough, ensuring the resulting pasta is silky smooth.
  11. Pass the pasta through the machine again, starting at the widest setting and gradually reducing the settings, one pass at a time, until the pasta achieves the required thickness.
  12. Shape the pasta by hand or pass the pasta through the chosen cutters and then drape the cut pasta over a broom handle (no need for fancy pasta drying racks here) to dry just a little, until ready to cook. IMG_20140901_134110[1]IMG_20140901_134217[1]
  13. Place the pasta into a large saucepan of boiling, salted water. You need plenty of water. It is the large volume of water that will prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  14. Cooking times for fresh and dried pasta vary according to the size and quality of the pasta. The only way to check is to taste it. However, the basic method of cooking remains the same.
  15. Stir the pasta only once or twice—if you have enough water in the pan and you stir the pasta as it goes in, it shouldn’t stick.
  16. DO NOT COVER the pot or the water will boil over. Quickly bring the pasta back to a rolling boil, stir, and boil until al dente. The pasta should not have a hard centre or be soggy and floppy. If following a specified cooking time, calculate it from the moment the pasta starts to boil again and have a colander ready for draining.
  17. Serve the meatballs over the tagliatelle as soon as it has cooked. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan if desired.

You could reserve some of the cooking water from the pasta to add to the meatball sauce then stir the pasta through the sauce. A word of warning though, pasta waits for no man and is best eaten straight away so make sure your hungry punters are gathered around the table as you’re ready to serve. (This usually isn’t an issue in my house).

I personally leave the pasta plain and let everyone dish up what they would like as I have a house full of fussy eaters. Remember the Cadbury Cream Egg advert, “How do you eat yours?”? Well, that’s what it’s like at meal times. Someone likes theirs all mixed up, another can’t possibly have carbs touching protein and another might faint if there’s no ketchup in the vicinity –regardless of what the meal is. However you choose to serve it though, the flavours are all still there in bucket-loads.

I highly recommend making your own pasta. The semolina in the dough gives the pasta a luxurious bite and subtle taste that you just don’t get with dried packet stuff and it is also slightly coarser grained so the sauce clings to it really well. If you don’t have time though, dried pasta is absolutely fine and I have nothing against it. You could coat a shoe in those meatballs and it would taste good!

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