Penne all’amatriciana with mozzarella meatballs

It’s safe to say that I’m a carb lover, so pasta is one of my favorite things to make & eat! My all time favorite cooking inspiration is Giada De Laurentiis, from Food Network. She makes the best meals, and they are simple! A Christmas gift of mine was a cook book by Giada called Giada at Home sampling some of her favorite recipes from when she grew up in Italy. Needless to say, this one caught my eye. I love cheese, and the fact that mozzarella is stuffed inside of a meatball makes my mouth water! The sauce gives this meal the perfect addition, pancetta with crushed tomatoes and a pinch of crushed red pepper gives a perfect salty kick.

I definitely advise you to buy the real cheese and grate it at home. Also, if you have never cooked with Veal before, don’t be intimidated (I have to say that I was, something about veal makes me a bit uneasy) but you will never know the difference other than the meatballs tasting better than you’ve ever had them! In her recipe, she used Spaghetti noodles, I used Penne because I was out of Spaghetti noodles, but honestly you could substitute any noodle!

A little Italian education for you : All’amatriciana is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (dried pork cheek), pecorino romano cheese and tomato. Originating from the town of Amatrice, the Amatriciana is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Italian cuisine. Now that you are informed, we can continue 🙂

You want to grab a large heavy skillet and heat oil in medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until golden brown, stirring constantly (5-7 minutes).  Using a slotted spoon take out the pancetta and set aside. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir about 30 seconds, then add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and cooked pancetta. Simmer, uncovered over medium-low heat and until thickened for about 15 minutes. While it’s simmering, grate your cheese then add in pan.

Now to start the star of the show: the meatballs! Preheat your oven to 400º, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take a large bowl and mix together the onion, 1/2 cup of parsley, 2/3 cup parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and a few dashes of Worcestershire. Add the beef and veal. Mix everything together with your hands to be sure it is mixed evenly and thoroughly. When rolling into balls, you want to make them a little small, then depress the middle and add a cube of mozzarella cheese, add some mixture to fully enclose the meatball. You can reform it by rolling it again with your hands.

Bake on the lower third portion of the oven at 400º for 15-20 minutes, or until browned. While the meatballs are cooking, fill a large pot with water to a boil. Add your noodle of choice and cook to box directions or until al dente! (Soft but has a slight firmness). Strain.

In a large bowl (or to save on dishes add the sauce into the pasta bowl after strained.) Sprinkle cheese and parsley on top. Serve the meatballs in a separate bowl or on top! And enjoy!!

What you’ll need:

for the sauce:

2 tbsp olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
A Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes (I ended up using a little more than a can)
1/2 cup of grated fresh Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

for the meatballs:

1/2 onion, grated
3/4 cup of chopped flat leaf italian parsley
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Italian seasoned brad crumbs
1 large egg
2 tbsp. ketchup
a couple dashes of Worcestershire
3 garlic cloves, minced
pinch or 2 of crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of salt & pepper
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground veal
2 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, cut or torn into cubes

1 lb of penne, spaghetti, bucatoni, etc. (noodles  of your choice!)

Bon Apetite!!!

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