Christmas Pasta

Circle B Kitchen

Serves 12

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 pound bacon, cut into small pieces

1 pound bulk Italian sausage

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup good quality dry red wine

1 cup prepared chicken or beef stock

2 (32-ounce) cans whole tomatoes (pureed with a hand blender or regular blender)

1 lb. fresh mozarella, cubed

1/3 cup cream

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley leaves

1/2 teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon (or more) crushed red pepper

Coarse salt and black pepper

1 ½ pounds penne rigate, cooked to al dente or rigatoni

1/2 lb Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

For the Meatballs

2 lbs of ground meat

2 eggs

2/3 cup fresh or dry breadcrumbs

1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese

½ cup minced onion

2 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh black pepper

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 to 4 tablespoons of milk (just enough to moisten the mixture)

Combine the meatball ingredients and form into golf-ball sized meatballs. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (I used my very large 14-inch braiser) and brown the meatballs on all sides (no need to cook them through completely. Set the meatballs aside.

In the same pan brown the bacon and sausage. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the allspice, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Stir a couple of minutes until fragrant and then add the wine and stock. Add the blended tomatoes, combine well and add the meatballs into the sauce. Cover, reduce the heat and let this simmer for an hour or so. Taste for salt and pepper. Add more crushed red pepper if necessary.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain. Remove the meatballs from the sauce and keep warm. Stir the cream into the sauce and then add the pasta along with the parsley, chopped mozzarella and a good handful of the parmesan cheese.

Place the pasta in a serving bowl or platter surrounded by the meatballs. Dust with some of the grated parmesan. Serve the remaining parmesan at the table.