Jan. 30, 2007 -- Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
3 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 ¼ pounds ground chuck beef
3 eggs, beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup pine nuts, baked for 3-4 minutes in a 400 degree oven
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups basic tomato sauce (recipe below or 1 jar of prepared tomato sauce)
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1. In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in water for a minute or two. Drain the bread cubes and squeeze with your fingers to press out the excess moisture.
2. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, beef, eggs, garlic, Pecorino Romano, parsley, toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper and mix with your hands to incorporate. With wet hands, form 12 to 15 meatballs, each about the size of a golf ball.
3. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat 1 cup oil until smoking. Cook the meatballs in the oil until golden brown and cooked through, working batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm.
4. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Add spaghetti and cook according to package instructions.
5. In a 10 to 12-inch sauté pan, combine tomato sauce and meatballs. Heat through.
6. Once pasta is al dente, drain in a colander and quickly toss the hot pasta into the sauté pan with meatballs. Toss gently to mix.
7. Divide equally among 4 warmed pasta bowls and sprinkle with Parmigiano cheese. Serve immediately.
Basic Tomato Sauce
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped in ¼-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
½ medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans of peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft.
Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt to taste.
Note: Sauce holds 1 week in refrigerator or up to 6 months in freezer.
Inspired by Kristin Davis, recreated by Mario Batali