Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fontina-stuffed meatballs in a rustic tomato and cremini stew

This is what happens on Sunday nights, when I have no clue what to do with my time!

- 1 lb ground beef (85% will give you more moisture in the final result compared to leaner mixes)
- 1 small onion and 1 clove of garlic, grated to a pulp
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs (from stale bread or crackers, no fresh bread)
- 1 egg
- salt, pepper, paprika, thyme (or whichever spices and herbs you feel like!)
- AP flour, to dredge the meatballs
- fontina cheese, in 1/4 inch cubes (one per meatball). 
Note: if you decide to make larger meatballs, adjust the size of the fontina cube
- a splash of olive oil
- 1 28oz can of peeled roma tomatoes with liquid, crushed
- a splash of red wine
- 1 onion and 1 clove of garlic, diced
- 4 or 5 fresh cremini mushrooms, finely sliced
- shredded fresh basil, to taste
- dried pasta of your choice (I used rustic fusilli napoletani)

- combine all first 5 ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands until well blended
- scoop out some of the meat mixture (about the size of a walnut) and roll in your hands
Note: sorry for the lack of pictures, but this only became a "bloggable" recipe mid-way through the execution :D
- flatten it with your thumb, and place a cube of fontina cheese inside
- wrap the cube and roll in your hands again until round and smooth
- dredge in flour
- in a pan, heat the olive oil on high heat and saute the meatballs until golden on all sides
- drain the half-cooked browned meatballs on a paper towel and reserve on a plate
Note: by now, you should see Fontina goodness oozing out of the meatballs... Resist the temptation to eat them all at this stage!
- in the same pan, saute the onion and garlic in the leftover oil and brown bits of the meatballs until translucent (about two minutes, stirring often)
- add the mushrooms, and saute another minute or until golden brown
- deglaze the pan with the red wine and add the crushed tomatoes and liquid
- cook for 20 minutes, or until reduced by half
- meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and cook your pasta of choice
- about 5 minutes before your pasta is done, add the reserved meatballs back into the tomato and mushroom stew
- cook for 5 minutes, or until the meatballs are done all the way through
- add the cooked pasta to the pan and coat with the sauce using tongs
- serve sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan
- Enjoy!

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