We have been on a quest for the perfect meatball recipe for several months and I think last weekend we finally found it! Previously we had made gluten-free meatballs, turkey meatballs, and ground beef meatballs based on recipes we found on the internet. All of these came out fine but were lacking the wow factor (and yes, now I know that there can be a wow factor when it comes to meatballs!). Ironically, after all of that searching on the world wide web we found the perfect recipe within the pages of our very own Cooks Illustrated The New Best Recipe book. Page 253, to be exact.
These meatballs were decadent and were so tender that they were almost creamy. The combination of ground chuck and ground pork was way better than the turkey (duh) and standard ground beef that we tried in previous attempts and the tomato sauce was tasty and thick.
Bucatini with Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
You will need:
For the meatballs…
2 slices White Bread, crust removed and slices torn into small pieces
6 tablespoons Plain Yogurt thinned with 2 tablespoons fat free Half and Half
3/4 pound Ground Chuck
1/4 pound Ground Pork
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese (or Parmesan/Romano Blend)
2 tablespoon minced Parsley Leaves
1 Egg Yolk
1 Garlic Clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon Salt
Pepper, to taste
1 cup Canola Oil, for pan-frying
For the tomato sauce…
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced Basil Leaves
Salt and Pepper
1 pound Bucatini Pasta, cooked according to package instructions
Combine the bread and yogurt mixture in a small bowl. Mash together with a fork and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until a paste forms.
Place the next eight ingredients (ground chuck through pepper) in a small bowl and add the bread-yogurt paste. Mix together very gently (just as was the case with the guacamole-chipotle burgers, the lighter your touch, the more tender your end product will be!) and form the mixture into 1 1/2 inch diameter meatballs. Press the meatballs together somewhat firmly to make sure they hold togethery during the cooking process. (Some of our very gently-formed meatballs fell apart but they were still delicious!) You should end up with 10-14 meatballs.
Pour the canola oil into a large straight-sided skillet so that it is approximately 1/4″ deep. Heat the pan over medium-high heat until the edge of a meatball browns if it is inserted into the oil. Once the oil is hot enough, place the meatballs in the pan in a single layer. Fry, turning several times, until the meatballs are evenly browned and slightly crispy on all sides (approx. 10 minutes). Remove the meatballs from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
Discard the oil in the skillet but retain any browned bits of meatball. Add the olive oil and garlic and saute until garlic becomes golden, approx. 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, stir, and simmer until sauce thickens, approx. 10 minutes. Stir in the basil, salt and pepper, then carefully add the meatballs. Stir gently to coat the meatballs and then allow to simmer for about 5 minutes to reheat meatballs.
Spoon several spoonfuls of the sauce over your cooked Bucatini and stir well to coat the pasta. Serve the pasta and top with meatballs and sauce. Enjoy!