Food & Drink Magazine

Ragu with {Melt-in-your-mouth Meatballs} Polpette & Italian Sausage

By Weavethousandflavors

  Ragu with polpette02

In life there are meatballs and then there are meatballs.

Everyone from the neighbor and his dog has their nonna’s recipes that they swear by. I’m not being snarky, I promise…I’m guilty of the same. In fact doing it right now!

So let me tell you, I’m sure your family recipe meatballs are fabulous but have you ever had a meatballs that’s so soft and succulent that you literally have to stamp HANDLE WITH CARE over each of them.

In fact I’m taking my old recipe and shelving it.

If it weren’t for this recipe that I came across during my trip to Sicily this October, where my friend Silvia and I were casually chatting about recipes kneading up some focaccia for dinner that evening, where she casually mentioned adding ricotta to the meatballs, all would have been lost.

Hope I have your attention now!

Pork, veal and ricotta comes together with chopped up onions, parsley, Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh bread crumbs and red pepper flakes are gently mound together to form meatballs that are then seared in the pan. Fried up next are Italian sausages.

The whole lot’s dunked in a rich red wine tomato ragu. Can I just say, it’s meatballs taken up oh so many notches! What pasta you decide to serve it with is entirely up to you. I doubt you’ll stop swooning on the meatballs to ever get past.

I emphatically urge you to drop everything and make these for your next Sunday sauce.

Truly, sincerely, thank you very much!

Devaki

Gather the Ingredients:

First we begin with the Basic tomato sauce

1 qty 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (3-3/4 to 4 cups), 1 small Spanish red onion, fresh thyme sprigs, to yield 3 tbs thyme leaves, 2 garlic cloves peeled, 1 small carrot, 1/2 tsp salt & 1/4 cup olive oil

Onions: Peel, discard skin and ends. Chop into ¼” pieces.

Garlic: Slice very thin and set aside.

Carrot: Peel and grate using a vegetable grater

Herbs: Separate the leaves from the stalks and using clean fingers crush to release fragrant oils.

Basic tomato sauce-1

In a heavy bottom pan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat until it is hot and you see ripples.

Add the garlic and onions and on medium-low heat sauté for about 10 minutes until the onions have softened but have not browned.

Add the grated carrot and herbs. Sauté for a minute or so.

Add the tomatoes. Simmer with lid on the pan on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Use in myriad recipes as called for. Will freeze well for several weeks.

Basic tomato sauce-2

Once the Basic tomato sauce is done begin on the Ragu with Meatballs & Italian sausage

Polpette: ½ lb ground Pork, ½ lb ground Veal, 2 eggs, 1 cup fresh Ricotta, 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, Italian pane bread – 1 day old (to yield, 1 cup fresh bread crumbs), yellow onion (to yield 1/2 cup chopped), 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 cup packed parsley leaves, 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled, 1 tsp salt & 1 tsp ground black pepper

Ragu: 1 recipe (approx. 4 cups basic tomato sauce (made earlier), ¼ cup tomato paste, 1-1/4 lb hot Italian Sausage links in casing, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 4 garlic cloves, peeled, 1 tsp sugar & 1 cup dry red wine (good quality, the kind you’ll drink with dinner)

Also 1-1/2 lbs dry Rigatoni & Plenty of water to cook pasta + 1 tbs salt

Pasta water: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Keep it going until ready to use by adding more water as necessary.

Eggs: Crack into a bowl, discard shells and beat with a fork.

Ragu with polpette-collage1

Breadcrumbs: In a food processor, crumb the bread. Measure 1 cup breadcrumbs. Freeze any extra breadcrumbs ONLY for later use in a zip-loc bag.

Onions: Peel and cut into large chunks

Parsley leaves: Separate leaves from stalks and measure 1 cup packed.

In the same food processor bowl used for the breadcrumbs, add the onions, parsley and garlic. Chop and set aside.

Garlic for the ragu: Crush and slice and set aside.

In a mixing bowl add the beaten eggs, onions mixture, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, bread, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Ragu with polpette-collage2

Meatballs: In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the ground meats & ricotta cheese.

Add the onion-cheese mixture and massage with clean hands or process in the stand mixer until blended.

Taste test

Use 1 tbs, flatten in a patty and fry with a little olive oil on both sides on a large non-stick pan - the same one you'll be using for the meatballs. Taste and then adjust the seasonings as necessary in the rest of the meatball mixture.

Cook's Note: If the meatball mixture is a smidgen too moist and the meatballs do not hold shape, add another 1/3 to 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and combine.

Form into medium sized meatballs - approx. 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. 

Sausage: Cut into 1/2 and set aside.

Ragu with polpette-collage3

Heat 1 tbs olive oil at a time in the large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add meatballs in 2-3 batches in a single layer, not touching.

Sear on all sides - turn over with a fork as necessary since tongs will crush the meatballs.

Ragu with polpette-collage4

Remove meatballs from the pan and the sausage to the same pan. Sear & remove form the pan and set aside.

Ragu with polpette-collage5

Add 1/3 cup olive oil and heat until very hot on medium-high heat.  Add the sliced garlic and sauté until fragrant.

Add the tomato paste and fry. Add the tomato sauce and stir to combine. De-glaze the pan with red wine and simmer for a few minutes. Add the sugar and season with salt and pepper.

Ragu with polpette-collage6

Add the meatballs gently into the ragu in a single layer if possible. Fit the sausage in between. Pour all the pan juices over. With a wooden spoon some of the sauce over the meatballs and sausages.

Reduce to medium low heat, cover with a lid, leaving a slight gap allowing the steam to escape and cook for about 15 minutes or until meat is cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings one last time.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water for 10-12 minutes until al-dente or just past that point. Sieve the rigatoni  from the water and platter.

Top with the ragu and garnish with additional Parmigiano Reggiano cheese & chopped parsley.

 

Recipe for

Ragu with Meatballs & Italian sausage

Shopping list

Serves 6

Polpette:

½ lb ground Pork

½ lb ground Veal

2 eggs

1 cup fresh Ricotta

1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano

Italian pane bread – 1 day old (to yield, 1 cup fresh bread crumbs)

yellow onion (to yield 1/2 cup chopped)

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup packed parsley leaves

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

olive oil to fry meatballs

Ragu:

1 recipe (approx. 4 cups basic tomato sauce (recipe below)

¼ cup tomato paste

1-1/4 lb hot Italian Sausage links in casing

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp sugar

1 cup dry red wine (good quality, the kind you’ll drink with dinner)

Also 1-1/2 lbs dry Rigatoni & Plenty of water to cook pasta + 1 tbs salt

Pasta water: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Keep it going until ready to use by adding more water as necessary.

Eggs: Crack into a bowl, discard shells and beat with a fork.

Breadcrumbs: In a food processor, crumb the bread. Measure 1 cup breadcrumbs. Freeze any extra breadcrumbs ONLY for later use in a zip-loc bag.

Onions: Peel and cut into large chunks

Parsley leaves: Separate leaves from stalks and measure 1 cup packed.

In the same food processor bowl used for the breadcrumbs, add the onions, parsley and garlic. Chop and set aside.

Garlic for the ragu: Crush and slice and set aside.

Meatballs: In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the ground meats & ricotta cheese.

Meanwhile in a mixing bowl add the beaten eggs, onions mixture, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, bread, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Massage with clean hands or process in the stand mixer until blended.

Use 1 tbs, flatten in a patty and fry with a little olive oil on both sides on a large non-stick pan - the same one you'll be using for the meatballs. Taste and then adjust the seasonings as necessary in the rest of the meatball mixture.

Cook's Note: If the meatball mixture is a smidgen too moist and the meatballs do not hold shape, add another 1/3 to 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and combine.

Form into medium sized meatballs - approx. 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. 

Sausage: Cut into 1/2 and set aside.

Heat 1 tbs olive oil at a time in the large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add meatballs in 2-3 batches in a single layer, not touching.

Sear on all sides - turn over with a fork as necessary since tongs will crush the meatballs. Remove meatballs from the pan and the sausage to the same pan. Sear & remove form the pan and set aside.

Add 1/3 cup olive oil and heat until very hot on medium-high heat.  Add the sliced garlic and sauté until fragrant.

Add the tomato paste and fry. Add the tomato sauce and stir to combine. De-glaze the pan with red wine and simmer for a few minutes. Add the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs gently into the ragu in a single layer if possible. Fit the sausage in between. Pour all the pan juices over. With a wooden spoon some of the sauce over the meatballs and sausages.

Reduce to medium low heat, cover with a lid, leaving a slight gap allowing the steam to escape and cook for about 15 minutes or until meat is cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings one last time.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water for 10-12 minutes until al-dente or just past that point. Sieve the rigatoni  from the water and platter.

Top with the ragu and garnish with additional Parmigiano Reggiano cheese & chopped parsley.

Enjoy!

 


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

Magazines