A few years ago, I made a New Year's Resolution to learn how to make really good authentic Italian food. Tomato sauce was one of the things that I really became good at making, in my (and my husband's) opinion anyway. I like mine spicy and sweet. Which is actually a mixture between two different styles of tomato sauce. Being from Louisiana, though, I think that the spicy is a prerequisite in any type of sauce I make. I also started making my own pasta at this time. Homemade pasta takes a little time, but is completely worth the effort. I usually make ravioli or lasagna noodles, but this time I decided to go the distance and make spaghetti.
Spaghetti and Meatballs Ala' LouLou
For the pasta
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
In a stand mixer, with a dough hook attachment, place flour in the bowl. Add one egg and mix at the lowest speed. Once the first egg is incorporated, add additional eggs one at a time, making sure each in incorporated before adding the next. Add water and mix well. The dough will form a ball. It will be sticky. Place the dough ball on a floured work surface and cover with an inverted bowl. Let sit for one hour. After the hour has passed, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Place a flat pasta roller on the first setting and roll the first piece of pasta through the roller. Fold the pasta in half and run it through the first setting several times, folding after each. Change the settings to the second and third in order and run the pasta through each one. After each piece has been run through the roller, change the roller to the spaghetti cutter and run each piece through. Place the spaghetti onto pasta drying racks. Allow the spaghetti to dry if your are not using it immediately.
For the meatballs
6 ounces of center-cut bacon (about 6 slices), diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup roasted red peppers, diced
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated onions
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon marjoram
2 tablespoons dried crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon jalapeno, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 pounds ground beef (10% fat)
Place bacon in a food processor.
Grind to a coarse paste. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the next 11 ingredients.
Add meat and mix with your hands.
Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, scoop meat into balls and roll with your hands. Place meatballs on a baking sheet.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill. (You can make these meatballs 1 day ahead.)
For the sauce
6 ounces center-cut bacon (about 6 slices), diced
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoons roasted garlic, diced
2 cups grated onion
1 tablespoon dried crushed red pepper
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 tablespoon oregano
1/3 cup brown sugar
In a large pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp; transfer to a plate. Add oil to the drippings in the pot. Place meatballs, in batches, into the pot and cook until brown on all sides.
Transfer meatballs to a baking sheet and set aside.
Add onions and crushed red pepper to the pot and saute until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add wine and reduce by half. Stir to remove the brown bits from bottom of pot. Meanwhile, puree tomatoes in juice and garlic in a blender, in batches, and add to the pot. Add marjoram and oregano. Boil until sauce thickens. Mix bacon back into sauce; add brown sugar. Add meatballs and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until the meatballs are heated through and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 7 minutes or until al dente. Drain and add 1 tablespoon of marjoram and 1 tablespoon of oregano to the pasta and toss. Serve with tomato sauce and meatballs and garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
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