Recipes

Recipe: FARM-TO-FRANCE WEEK: OVEN-ROASTED ITALIAN MEATBALLS IN LONG-SIMMERED RAGU SAUCE

Wichita cook Bonnie Aeschliman, owner of the cooking school Cooking at Bonnie's Place, has just published a beautiful, color cookbook featuring recipes she's collected during her culinary career. This week, we'll share a few samples. The book is available online at www.farmtofrance.com.

Today's comes from a chapter called "Sicilian Pasta Party."



Bonnie's note: Usually I serve this with spaghetti, but penne or rotini pasta also work well. The sauce needs to be made first. It may be made in advance-the flavors blend together and it is wonderful! Just remember to cool it down quickly in a cold water bath and refrigerate. Usually, when making a lot of meatballs, I find it easier to roast them in the oven instead of browning them in hot oil. It is quicker, not as messy and uses less fat. I use lean beef and add a little extra olive oil so the meatballs will be moist.

INGREDIENTS

Ragu Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce

1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes

1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste

1 cup beef or chicken broth

½ cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon dried basil leaves

2 teaspoons dried leaf oregano

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dried leaf thyme

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper



Meatballs

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (90 percent lean)

2 eggs, slightly beaten

½ cup dry Italian-style bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon dried leaf oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil leaves



1 pound spaghetti or pasta of choice

Garnish: Grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. To prepare Ragu Sauce: Place oil in a large, heavy pot with onion and garlic over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender. Add remaining ingredients.



2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Makes about 1 3/4 quarts sauce.



3. To prepare Meatballs: Place ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Combine to mix thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients and gently mix into meat mixture. (Clean hands are good tools here!) Form mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs.



4. Place raw meat balls on a foil or parchment paper-lined jelly roll pan or rimmed baking sheet. Bake in 350 degrees oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until browned. Drop a few at a time into hot Ragu Sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over hot, cooked pasta.



5. To serve pasta with Meatballs and Ragu Sauce: Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain thoroughly. Stir about a cup of Ragu Sauce into the pasta,



6. Place hot cooked pasta on a large serving platter. Spoon meatballs and sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.



Makes 6 to 8 servings



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