White bread is not something that I normally have on hand so I used plain old bread crumbs from a can which I did soak in the milk for 5 minutes. Grating onions was an adventure. I haven’t cried that much since our first cat died. In the future, I may take a cue from a French movie I once saw where one of the characters was slicing onions while wearing a snorkel and mask. I wonder if you can rent snorkels like you can rent scuba gear? Unlike most of my experiences, this recipe did, in fact, yield 24 meatballs but they seemed awfully large to be fully cooked after 15 minutes in the oven.
Making the sauce was simple although I question whether the 15 minute reduction indeed reduced the vodka or merely boiled away the alcohol. The crushed red pepper and black pepper gave it a nice kick. And I really liked it over the rigatoni rather than the more usual spaghetti. The meatballs were a disappointment. They were nowhere near cooked through after 15 minutes. My guess is that they needed at least twice that much time.
Verdict: Not bad, but I don’t think I’ll be making this again
½ cup fresh white bread crumbs
½ cup milk
¾ lb. bulk mild Italian sausage
¾ lb. ground beef (85% lean)
1 medium onion, coarsely grated
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, divided
12 oz. rigatoni
¼ cup butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
⅔ cup vodka or chicken broth
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
¾ cup whipping cream
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Heat oven to 425°F. Combine bread crumbs and milk in large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Mix in sausage, ground beef, onion, ½ cup of the cheese, parsley, ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the crushed red pepper until well-blended. Shape into 24 (1 3/4-inch) balls. Place on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through and no longer pink in center. Cover loosely with foil.
Cook rigatoni in large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain.
Meanwhile, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook garlic 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in vodka; reduce until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, cream, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper and black pepper; bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Spoon sauce over rigatoni; sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese. Top with meatballs.
Recycle: milk bottle, vodka bottle, tomato can
Compost: onion skin, parsley stems, garlic skins