Rigatoni and meatballs with vodka sauce
For the main course, we served rigatoni and meatballs with vodka sauce. It was wonderful - very filling. The rigatoni and meatballs recipe came from Martha Stewart Living and the Vodka sauce came from Giada De Laurentiis (Everyday Italian).
Rigatoni and Meatballs
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork (we used mild Italian sausage)
1/4 C fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 C finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
6 Tbl fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 C milk
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
2 Tbl olive oil, plus more as needed
1/2 C dry white wine
1 lb rigatoni, cooked
In a large bowl, combine ground beef and pork, parsley, Parmesan, eggs, breadcrumbs, milk, and salt. Form into 1 1/2" balls.
Heat 1 Tbl oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs; cook, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides, about 5 mins. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining Tbl oil meatballs. (We put the meatballs in the over at 350 while the other meatballs were browning to make sure they were going to be cooked fully.)
Add white wine to same pan; deglaze by stirring up browned bits from bottom with a wooden spoon. Reduce wine by half, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups of sauce and meatballs; bring to a simmer. Reduce to medium-low; cook, uncovered, 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper. Toss pasta with sauce and pour into a serving dish. Top with meatballs or put them in a separate bowl.
1 quart Simple Tomato Sauce, recipe follows, or store-bought marinara sauce, blended until smooth
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Simmer the tomato sauce and vodka in a heavy large skillet over low heat until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Stir the cream into the tomato and vodka sauce. Simmer over low heat until the sauce is heated through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and well blended.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan with the sauce, and toss to coat.
Simple Tomato Sauce:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. If sauce tastes too acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to round out the flavor.
Pour half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.
If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and then pour 1 to 2 cup portions into plastic freezer bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.
Yield: 6 cups Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes