Meatballs and Sausage Ragu Napolitan Style

Browning Italian Sausage

Serves 4 to 6 persons

Meatballs and sausage
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (85-15) ground beef
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 eggs, beaten
5 Italian sausages cut in half
Meatballs and Sausage Ragu

The sauce:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ red onion, finely minced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 slices minced prosciutto
2 (28 ounce each) cans San Marzano crushed tomatoes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large thick bottom pan, add the oil and onion on medium-low heat. Cook until the onion is barely golden.  Add the garlic and prosciutto and cook 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Allow to cook until some of the water from crushed tomatoes has reduced, about 5-8 minutes. Cover and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes.  At this point the meats can be added.

Making the meatballs:
In the food processor add the garlic, onion, breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley; pulse a few times until fine.

Place the ground beef in a large bowl.  Add the breadcrumb mixture and beaten eggs. Mix gently  until the ingredients are well blended. Squeezing the meat mixture too much can result in tough meatballs, so be gentle.

Make a small meatball and test the seasoning and texture by adding a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and cooking it until browned.

Once the test is done, make seasoning adjustments if needed. Use a scooper or tablespoon to create meatballs either 2 inches in diameter or smaller. Whatever the size you choose, be sure to make them all the same size. When all of the meatballs are made, place them in a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in preheated 400F oven until browned. Be sure to turn them once or twice. Or, you can fry them in a large skillet with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. I prefer the skillet. Once all of the meatballs are browned, transfer them to the cooking sauce with the oil. If you prefer a leaner sauce, do not add the oil. The difference by leaving the oil from meatballs is not only that it's traditional, but tastier. 

In a large skillet, cook the sausage on medium heat; add a tablespoon or two of olive oil in skillet if the pan is too dry. Cook until the sausages are browned evenly. When the sausages are browned, transfer then to the sauce with the oil. Stir gently, cover and cook another 25-30 minutes covered.  Wait until the oil rises to the top of the pan. This is an indication that the sauce is ready. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. you can skim the oil from the sauce, or not based on how lean you prefer the sauce.

Cook 1 pound of pasta according to package direction.  Drain well, add a little sauce to the drained pasta; mix well so that the pasta will not stick.  Add some pasta to each serving bowl, top with more sauce, 2 meatballs, a sausage, additional grated cheese and freshly chopped basil.  
San Marzano Tomatoes

This recipe can be served as one course or two. Serve the pasta topped with sauce, meats, cheese and basil as one course. Or as two split courses by serving the pasta with sauce, cheese and basil as one course, and serving the meats in a warmed bowl as the second course. Whatever way you choose to serve it, it will be eagerly eaten and enjoyed.   Growing up, we served it as two courses so we could stretch out the pleasure of eating it, and also we didn’t have to create  another course.  Served this with a salad or cooked vegetables and you have a delicious three course meal. If you have any leftovers, you can make meatball and sausage sandwiches the next day. Top it with shredded mozzarella and bake it in the oven until the cheese melts. My mouth is watering.. got to go make it again!

1 comment:

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