Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 25: Veal Polpette with Thin Spaghetti and Light Tomato and Basil Sauce

   Coarse salt
3/4 pound thin spaghetti
1 pound ground veal
4 garlic cloves, 2 cloves minced, 2 cloves chopped
1 egg
1/2 to 2/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus some to pass at the table
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
   Coarse black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup small raisins or currants
1 small to medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, San Marzano variety if available
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
20 fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a large pot of water to a boil. When it boils, salt it and add the pasta.

While the water boils, in a large bowl, mix the meat with the minced garlic, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and a generous drizzle of EVOO.

Roll small meatballs with a pine nut and raisin in the center of each, and arrange them on a rimmed nonstick cookie sheet. Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the 3 tablespoons of EVOO. Add the chopped garlic and the onions and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft and sweet.

Add the wine, reduce for a minute, then stir in the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Fold in the basil to wilt it.

Cook the pasta al dente, drain, and toss with half of the sauce.

Take the meatballs from the oven and carefully loosen them from the cookie sheet with a thin spatula, then add them to the remaining sauce to coat.

Top the pasta with the polpette and serve with extra grated cheese to pass at the table and a green salad.


This is an interesting version of spaghetti and meatballs, but not one that I would make again. I used pork instead of veal for the meatballs. They were very bready and the raisin and pine nut seemed out of place. Also, it took a long time to roll and stuff them all. Just not worth the hassle. The sauce was good, but a little too chunky for my family. Maybe the beef variation will be better. We'll see. I didn't add the salad, because it's not mentioned until the end of the recipe. Here is what RR says: "Polpette are baby meatballs and these are stuffed with a pine nut (buttery slightly crunchy surprise) and a currant or raisin (to keep the meat moist)." She also says, "Spaghetti and meatballs: Sure it's a classic, but don't get stuck in a rut; here I give 3 ways to make the meatballs, 3 ways to serve them."

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