There are hundreds of cuisines in Italy, not to mention the regional specialties. Then of course you have family secrets ~ the one thing you won’t find, spaghetti and meatballs. Oh, you can have a rich red wine-laced tomato sauce to dip the polpetti, or find miniature versions, almost like the Italian version of tapas, that you can just pop in your mouth to savor the explosion of flavors. And pasta? You absolutely will not find overcooked-drowned-in-sauce-to-hide-the-fact pasta! The shell, noodle, maccheroni ~ is a gastronomic work of art, the sauce is just the last brush stroke! Call up some friends, throw a crisp table cloth on, grab a salad and some bread ~ I’ve taken care of the rest ~ with love, v
- 8 oz veal or pork
- 8 0z ground beef
- 2/3 c pecorinio, grated
- 1/2 c breadcrumbs
- 4 T fresh Italian parsley
- zest & juice of 1 lemon
- kosher salt
- 2 T flour
- olive oil
- 8 oz white wine
- hot water
- 4 bay leaves torn
- lemon slices (thin) and bay leaves to serve
Place first 10 ingredients together in a bowl and mix with your hands until well-incorporated. Have a small bowl with a little extra wine; dip hand into the wine, scoop a little of the meat mixture, shape into little, plum-sized balls. Gently roll in flour until lightly coated, shaking off excess. Set aside while oil heats.
Choose a skillet that is not too large just large enough to hold the meatballs, but with sides at least 4 inches high. Heat oil over medium/high heat. Fry meatballs in oil without crowding the pan until browned on both sides (lower heat slightly if you notice burned particles of breadcrumbs collecting in pan). Give pan a gentle shake and move meatballs slightly with kitchen tongs to make sure they dont stick to pan or to each other.
When meatballs are sufficiently browned, remove carefully from skillet and set aside on paper toweling. Pour out most of the oil and discard, leaving a thin coating on bottom of pan. Place meatballs back in the skillet and pour white wine in.
Turn heat up a bit and shake the pan so wine distributes evenly. Let alcohol burn off for a minute, then pour in enough hot water just to cover the meatballs. Add bay leaf pieces and let bubble over medium/low heat until sauce is reduced and staring to become syrupy about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and chopped preserved lemon and continue to cook 4-5 more minutes, or until juices have a thickened consistency. (If you want juices even thicker, remove meatballs and cover with foil. Bring heat under pan up to medium/high and let boil gently another 3-4 minutes.)
Remove meatballs with a slotted spoon and place in pre-warmed serving dish. Spoon some pan juices over and garnish with whole bay leaves and lemon slices.
Busiate alle Siciliana
- ¾ cup sliced almonds, toasted
- ½ cup packed basil
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan, plus more for serving
- 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. golden raisins
- 2 tbsp. capers, drained
- ¼ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 3 anchovy filets in oil, drained
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pepperoncini, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups flour
- 3 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
Make the pesto: Place tomatoes in a food processor and process until finely chopped; pour tomatoes into a fine strainer and drain off excess juices. Process tomatoes along with almonds, basil, parmesan, 5 tbsp. oil, raisins, capers, chile flakes, anchovies, garlic, and pepperoncini in a food processor until finely ground. Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until needed.
Make the pasta: In a large bowl, whisk together flour and 1 tsp. salt; form a well in the center. Pour remaining oil, eggs and yolk, and 2 tbsp. water in well, and using a fork, slowly stir until flour is incorporated and dough forms. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
Divide dough into 6 equal pieces; working with 1 piece at a time, roll into a ⅛″-thick rope and cut rope into 2″ lengths. Place one end of each length on the end of a wooden skewer or pencil and roll on work surface until length wraps around skewer and forms a corkscrew.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; working in batches, add pasta and cook, stirring, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving ¼ cup cooking water, and transfer pasta to a large bowl along with pesto; toss to combine, adding a couple spoonfuls of cooking water, if needed, to create a smooth sauce. Transfer to a large serving platter or bowls and serve with more parmesan cheese.