Pappardelle with a ragu of tiny meatballs


My brother and his wife were coming on Friday from South Carolina and I wanted to cook, rather than sample a fine San Francisco restaurant; specifically, I wanted to make pasta. I remembered seeing a scrumptious picture of pappardelle with tiny meatballs in Jamie Oliver’s book, Cooking with Jamie. Love pappardelle, love meatballs, it looked easy and could be made in stages. What’s not to like? I was so pleased with the idea, that we invited my nephew and his lady friend, as well.That same week, I was browsing the Cookbook section at Books, Inc and saw a stupid simple idea in the new A-16 cookbook: they use raw tomato sauce for their pizza. Just run San Marzano tomatoes through the medium disk of a food mill. I can do that!

san_marzano.jpg     early_girl.jpg

san marzano                           early girl


Generally, I use San Marzano tomatoes for sauce, but sometimes I like Early Girl tomatoes; they’re not as rich, but bright and tomatoey. I happened to have a couple pounds of them. I reckoned that a sauce of Early Girls, beef broth and red wine would work just fine. I was thinking of a brothy sauce rather than a saucy sauce.Another neat feature of this dish is that my brother, who likes to cook, could roll meatballs with me and catch pasta coming out of the roller while the girls have a glass of wine and kibitz.
First, I made the pasta dough and put it to rest. Then, we assembled and rolled the meatballs and put them in the refrigerator, as instructed. They cured while we rolled and cut the dough.



I got out a container of frozen homemade beef broth to thaw and ran my Early Girls through the food mill.

That was a good start, so we did tourist stuff for a while.

I did a test batch of sauce: equal parts of tomato sauce and broth with a half part of wine. Everybody tasted and declared it good, understanding that I would deglaze the meatball skillet and cook down the sauce. Oh boy.

One recipe of
basic pasta dough, rolled and cut into pappardelle.
1 pound ground beef (chuck, skirt or brisket)1-2 dried red chiles, crumbleda pinch of ground cinnamon1/2 nutmeg, grated3 cloves finely chopped garlicsea salt and ground pepper1 large egga handful of grated Parmesan cheesezest of one lemon
2 cups homemade beef broth2 cups raw Early Girl tomato sauce1 cup dry red winesea salt and ground peppera knob of buttera bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and stalks tied

Assemble the meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands. Shape into marble size balls, running your hands under cold water every now and then. Place them on parchment paper on a baking sheet and put in the fridge.Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. Put in the meatballs in batches and cook, rolling them around until they get a good color. Reserve to a plate. Do the other batches, adding oil if needed.Boil water for pasta.When all of the balls are out of the pan, pour in the sauce ingredients and the tied basil stems. Stir and cook to reduce by about half. Season with salt and pepper, and finish with a knob of butter; remove basil stems and add the meatballs back to the pan.Cook the pappardelle for about 3 minutes and drain. Immediately add the pasta to the meatballs and sauce and mix everything together. Remove to a warm platter, sprinkle with the basil leaves. Pass the Parmesan cheese.Yum.

One thought on “Pappardelle with a ragu of tiny meatballs

  1. I’m the bro and it was good!


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