Thursday, June 16, 2005

Peasant Pasta with Meatballs and Veggie Parmesan Cream Sauce

We had a bad computer day on Wednesday here on St. Simons Island. We’re still suffering from some as yet unidentified problem that Adelphia says is in our PC’s, but we can’t explain since my laptop works OK on our back up dial up connection. Pat’s notebook is on it’s way via Fed-EX back to her corporate IT department for a tune up so we are a one PC family for couple of days.

Adding insult to injury, our condo air conditioner is running at about 50% capacity—in layman’s terms, our interior forecast is slightly warm, with a good chance of cooling down after the sun sets this evening. In the mean time, it’s about 80 degrees.

In an effort to cook dinner and not heat the kitchen up too much with the stove, I looked into doing some sort of quick pasta dish.

This recipe supplied the inspiration for the veggies. I added this simple Parmesan cream sauce. I also did my own variation of Italian meatballs.

Here is what you will need to make a fast dinner for two:

6 oz Assuntine Tricolore Pasta (or penne, rotinni, or other pasta of your choice)

½ lb ground sirloin
1 spicy hot Italian sausage
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 tsp black pepper

1 stick semi-sweet unsalted butter
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
1 carrot, sliced thin
1 cup heavy cream
fresh ground black pepper

OK, no fooling around here—we’re in a hurry. Fill a medium boiler with a couple of quarts of water and place it on the stove on medium heat.

Also toss your largest heavy skillet on the stove on medium heat and add a splash of olive oil.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine your Italian sausage, ground beef, and the egg. Now add your spices and the Worcestershire sauce and mix everything up real well. Add a little breadcrumbs to stiffen things up. The amount of breadcrumbs will vary based on the amount of fat in your ground beef—I used about two tablespoons.

Now scoop out some of the meat mixture and make yourself eight or ten small meatballs. Pinch a chunk of meat mixture out and roll it up in a ball in your hands and place the meatball in the skillet.

When you have all of the meatballs made and they are cooking along, carefully lift and turn them several times to brown nicely on the outside and ensure that they are done at least medium well inside. When they are all cooked, pull the meatballs out and place them on a plate on the side.

By now your water should be boiling. Add a teaspoon of salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and dump in your pasta to cook based on the package instructions. I like mine al dente.

Turn the heat down on the skillet slightly and add ¼ stick of butter. As your butter melts, scrape the skillet to break loose the flavorful chunks of meat left over from cooking your meatballs. Add your red bell pepper and carrot and sauté until tender, then add the rest of the butter and kick the heat back up slightly until the butter is melted and starting to bubble.

Pour in the cream and do not walk away from the stove until you are finished cooking. You have to watch and stir this mixture almost continuously or you WILL burn it and will be stuck eating McDonalds burgers for dinner. We can’t have that, can we?

As your cream sauce starts to thicken, add your meatballs back in and keep stirring. Add a couple of twists of fresh ground black pepper. Keep stirring.

Place your pasta bowls in the oven to preheat.

When your pasta is done, pour it into a colander and drain it well, then dump it into the skillet with the meatballs and sauce. Let everything cook another couple of minutes.

Pull your pasta bowls out of the oven, place them on chargers, pour half of your mixture into each bowl, grab couple of forks, and EAT.

Enjoy Y’all,

The Redneck Gourmet

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