Pasta with meatballs and tomato sauce

Pasta with meatballs and tomato sauce, by Francesca Contini, is a take on the traditional Italian dish of tagliatelle with mince balls using home-made pasta
Pasta with meatballs and tomato sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 3
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes plus resting
  • Effort: hard

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 250 g minced beef, (or 125g minced pork and 125g minced beef)
  • 3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 onion, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten

For the tomato sauce

  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, very, very finely chopped
  • 1 small piece dried chilli, (peperoncino)
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3x400 g plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley

For the pasta alluovo fatta in casa (house egg pasta)

  • 300 g 00 Italian durum wheat flour
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 3 large organic free-range egg yolks
  • parmesan shavings

Method

1. For the meatballs: combine the minced meat, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, onion and raisins in a large bowl. Add the egg yolk and mix it in with a fork or clean hands, then season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 69 small balls and set aside.

2. For the tomato sauce: heat the oil in a large pan, over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the dried chilli to flavour it, then add the garlic and cook until soft. Pour in the tomatoes and gently put the meatballs in the sauce. Cover the pan and cook over a very low heat for 12 hours, leaving the pan lid balanced on a wooden spoon to let some steam evaporate. Towards the end of cooking, add the flat-leaved parsley and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

3. For the pasta: this will take about an hour the first time, but will get quicker the more you do it. Put the flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and break the eggs in to it, adding the yolks as well. Using a fork, whisk the eggs into the flour gradually and the mixture will become denser and form into a ball; stirring everything together at once may result in too dry and crumbly a mixture that wont form a dough. Use your hands to press the dough together; try to let it take in as much flour as its comfortable to handle. This stage can also be reached using a food processor with the dough attachment. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.

4. Put the dough on a floured work surface and knead it with the palms of your hands. Push it away from you, constantly folding it over, rotating it 90 degrees and kneading again. Keep working the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, dusting it with a little flour if it gets at all sticky. It is ready when you can ease it apart between your hands to show a smooth, silky surface with no cracks. Cover it with cling film and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Take one and leave the others covered. Attach a pasta machine to a table at a comfortable height and pass the dough through its widest setting. Fold it equally into three (fold the narrowest side a third of the way along the length of the dough and then fold it over again, keeping the edges tidy so it is easy to work with). Pass the even, folded edge through the rollers again and continue to roll and fold at the widest setting about eight times. At some point you may get a noise like bubble-gum popping as an air pocket is forced through the rollers; this means the dough is ready. Dont worry if you dont hear this; the dough will also look silky smooth.

6. Now start to thin out the dough. Reduce the width of the setting on the pasta machine and pass the dough through so that it becomes thinner and longer. It should not be sticky, but add a sprinkling of flour if it is. Dont fold it any more, just pass it through each reduced setting. It should be thin and fine, but not too fine to handle.

7. When the dough is in a fine strip, let it dry for a few minutes before cutting it. One way to do this is to suspend a broom between two chairs and drape the pasta over the handle put greaseproof paper over it, and on the floor below, before putting the pasta on. Prepare the rest of the dough in the same way.

8. Cut the pasta into tagliatelle using the narrower of the two cutters on a standard pasta machine, being careful to catch the strips at the other end; the cut pasta can then be hung to dry a little over the broom handle. Cook it in plenty of boiling, salted water for about 4 minutes; it is done when it floats to the surface. Drain well and serve with the tomato sauce and meatballs. Garnish with parmesan cheese shavings.

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