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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Meatballs and Perciatelli

BBQ Spaghetti is often a dish that is an amalgam of fusion, an attempt to make a dish from the parts of one cook and the part of another, at it's best, it can be a wonderful dish. Most often, it is a assortment of meats, in a sauce that is often more BBQ than pasta sauce and some fairly straightforward spaghetti. It can be good, I often order it when it is on special at my favorite BBQ place, Phat Matt's in Oakland, California. It has always struck me, though, that I might take this dish in a little different direction, more pasta dish than BBQ dish.

Here was my take. Spaghetti and Meatballs elevated.

In case you forgot what meatballs look like

1/2 pound fresh ground chuck (I used Eel River Organic Beef, 85%/15%)
1 pound of hickory smoked pulled pork, ground with medium plate
1 cheap white hamburger burn, torn to shreds, ground with medium plate
1 large egg, beaten with 1/4 cup water
1.5 tablespoons or so, dried Italian Herb mix

I ground the pulled pork while it was still cold, ground the bread through the same plate, then mixed with the ground beef and fed it back through the medium plate a second time. Then the egg mixture was whisked with the herb mix, this assists in a more evenly distributed herb mix. The entire mix was then allowed to cure for 15 minutes. This allowed the bread to abosrb some of the moisture and bind the mixture even more.

I handle a mixture like this as little as possible, as I want to retain the texture as loose and light as possible. Milk could have been used instead of water, but, that would mean I would need milk, which I did not have.

I went with Perciatelli, I love this pasta shape, from the outside, it looks like a double thick spaghetti, but, from the end, there is a hole in the middle. I find this pasta is as tender as it's smaller spaghetti cousin, but, the larger outside diameter holds the sauce better. I also prefer pasta that is extruded through brass dies for the rough texture.

I cooked the pasta, basically following the box except I use 1/8 cup salt to 1 gallon of water for 1/2 package. It is cooked to al dente, maybe a minute short of that even. I then take the pasta pan, after draining the pasta and saving 1/2 cup of the pasta water and add a cup of sauce and a little olive oil which I "fry" the sauce, then add 1/4 cup white wine and some grated Grana Pandano and the pasta, which is then tossed over low heat to finish the cooking in the sauce. This further dresses the sauce and improves both texture and flavor.

Plating is as simple as dumping the pasta into a pasta bowl, or onto a plate and topping with meatballs.

Can you see how casual the plating was?

Gah! the sauce, about the sauce. I wanted to do something other than the heavily BBQ influenced sauces so often used on BBQ spaghetti, some places just use ladles of the house sauce. I find this both heavy handed with a sauce that is meant to be a condiment, and rather too strong for a pasta dish. For me, pasta, even more than BBQ is meant to shine with a balance between a beautiful sauce and simple pasta. What I did was take 1 medium dry onion, chopped fine and 3 heads of garlic, sliced, this was all browned. Then I took a large can of canned tomatoes, dumped the liquid into the pan, chopped the tomatoes and put them in, added 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of chile powder and 3 tablespoons dried Italian herbs and "fried" it all. Into this was added 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce (I used Big Butz Original), 1/2 cup white wine and the whole thing was heated through. The meatballs ended up being cooked in the sauce for 10 minutes.

The final dish spoke of a pasta dish with a little taste of BBQ, the sauce and pasta was balanced, each playing a part and the meatballs spoke of both herbs and smoked pulled pork.

1 comment:

  1. I just ate but dang, I'd eat again right now if I had a plate of that. Love the idea of grinding cold pulled pork....that's going to find it's way into my back of tricks.