Bucatini All’Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs
Thursday March 18, 2010

Thank you for reading TSLL. The first two posts are complimentary. You have 1 free post view remaining this month.

Become a Member for as little as $4/mo and enjoy unlimited reading of TSLL blog.

It is a very rare occasion that I’m not in the mood for pasta, and last Thursday was no exception.  Collecting recipes I find online or while I’m watching Food Network is something I do quite often, but finding time to try all of them is unfortunately more difficult.  Last week though, I was able to give two recipes a try that I have been anxious to taste.

To my thrill, both recipes will forever be printed off and kept in my collection of recipes.  Delicious and filling, and all in all, quite simple considering the main dish required meatballs made from scratch.

The first recipe was Giada de Laurentiis’ family’s enhance version of the traditional spaghetti and meatballs – Bucatini All’amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs.  Don’t let the spicy terminology scare you away.  This comes by way of red pepper flakes which you can add more of or eliminate all together depending on your preference.  I simply stuck to the recipe, and I felt there was just enough spice to add flavor, but not too much that might knock you backwards.  The time it took from start to finish was between thirty to forty-five minutes which was impressive considering meatballs were involved. (can you tell I previously was not a fan of making meatballs?)

The key ingredients in my opinion:

*bucatini pasta – I found this particular type of pasta at a specialty Italian grocery store – Cugini’s, but I know you can find them at Whole Foods as well.  It soaks up so much more sauce than a traditional spaghetti pasta and seems to allow much more flavor to each bite.

*pecorino romano cheese – this additional ingredient to the sauce adds an extra flavor and creaminess that to me was delicious.

*smoked mozzarella – placing a cube of mozzarella in each meatball – genius!  Why have I never attempted this?  Next time I am going to try traditional mozzarella to see if I notice a significant difference, but regardless, this cheesy goodness is a treat to find upon savoring the meatballs.

Bucatini All’Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs


All’Amatriciana Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 small (6-ounce) onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/4 cup
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground veal
  • 2 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 16 (1/2-inch) cubes
  • 1 pound bucatini or other long pasta

1. For the sauce: In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and reserve. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and the cooked pancetta. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

2. For the meatballs: Position an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. In a large bowl, combine the onion, 1/2 cup parsley, 2/3 cup Parmesan, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the beef and veal. Using your hands, combine all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Shape the meat mixture into 16 (1 1/2-inch-diameter) meatballs and place on the prepared baking sheet. Make a hole in the center of each meatball and place a cube of mozzarella inside. Reform the meatball so that the mozzarella is completely covered with the meat mixture. Bake the meatballs for 15 minutes until cooked through.

4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl. Add the meatballs and sauce. Toss gently and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and Parmesan.

And a traditional Italian feast would not be complete without garlic bread.  Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, demonstrated a quick, yet fresh and delicious recipe on her Food Network show Back to Basics: Barefoot Contessa recently that immediately caught my attention.  And, as always, it did not disappoint.  The next time you are thinking about quickly picking up a loaf at the grocery store, just pick up a few ingredients instead, and in only ten minutes you will have your veryown  Ciabatta Garlic Bread.  The flavor and fresh taste of herbs and, oh of course, butter, will far surpass anything pre-concocted at the store.

Garlic Ciabatta Bread

  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until minced. Add the parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse twice.

3. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan and add the garlic mixture. Remove the pan from the heat.

4. Slice the ciabatta bread in half horizontally, and spread the butter on 1 half. Spread the garlic mixture on the other half of the bread, and put the halves together. Wrap the bread in aluminum foil.

5. Place the bread in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Open the foil, and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes.

Both recipes made for a delicious evening in that took much less time than I expected which was very much appreciated.

Hopefully your week has been going smoothly and, guess what?  Believe it or not, the weekend is only one day away; you’re almost there.  Have a wonderful treasured Thursday.  Bon Appétit!

4 thoughts on “Bucatini All’Amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs

  1. Its the funniest thing, but I don’t think I’ve ever eaten meatballs with spaghetti or long pasta. We make meatballs and usually serve on the side with a short pasta. I guess I’m the weird one as in North America spaghetti and meatballs is a quintessential Italian dish.

  2. Great post!! I’m bookmarking this one with delicious! A couple things I’d never thought of…mincing the garlic with the food processor…brilliant idea.

    I also loved the mozz in the meatball…will have to try that next time.

    We had pasta last night. I was out of spaghetti, so I broke up lasagna noodles into small segments like a skillet lasagna size. Then I layered them with meat sauce and fresh mozzarella. It was so good!

    I know exactly what you mean about finding the time to try new recipes. I’ve yet to cook with pancetta!! I imagine that is huge in getting an authentic Italian flavor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

From TSLL Archives
Updated British Week 1.jpg
Updated French Week 2.jpg