Cooking on a Budget,  Housemade,  Recipe

Homemade Pasta & Double-Cheddar Meatballs

Last week, my husband and I were watching the Cooking Channel while on our vacation two weeks ago and happened to catch the Meatballs episode of the United Tastes of America. Let’s just say that episode planted the seed for both of us… We’ve been talking about making meatballs since then – the first grocery trip resulted in ranch burgers, but that second trip definitely announced that meatballs were in order.

Hence, this was last night’s dinner.

As Adrien Monk would say, “Here’s what happened…”

First, I made the pasta dough. I started by stirring together 3 local eggs, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a spoonful of roasted garlic puree (we like the one from Williams-Sonoma but I can’t find it online). Then I added a cup of flour and mixed it all together. Sometimes I use semolina, but I left it out this time. After the first cup was mixed in, I added more little-by-little until I got to a “kneadable” consistency. I turned the mixture out onto the board and began to knead it – I turned the dough for a couple minutes, adding flour as needed, until I got a nice smooth ball of dough that wasn’t too sticky nor too dry. I flattened the dough ball into a flattish oval and wrapped it in plastic. Then it hung out in the fridge for about an hour.

About 15 minutes before my husband arrived, I put together the meatballs. I threw together about a pound of ground beef (pretty lean), about a pound of ground pork (not so lean), a cup of crumbs (I usually use breadcrumbs or soak stale bread in milk, then sqeeze out most of the milk, but this time I used pretzel crumbs! I ground up the last of the cheddar cheese pretzel twists, and man, did that work out!), a handful of grated sharp cheddar, and two local eggs. I seasoned the mixture with our beloved Adobo and mixed it with my hands. I rolled them in my palms and made balls a little larger than 1.5″ across – they are definitely not bite-sized. I threw them into a 400 degree oven and went to work on the pasta again.

I made my pasta into sheets then into tagliatelle using my Imperia pasta machine. I tossed the strands with a dusting of flour and put them off the side to wait.

By this time the water was boiling, and I added some Ibiza salt and waited for the meatballs to be ready (Be wary, though! Meatballs can get dry, so don’t stray too far from the oven, because a nose knows when they are done!). Here are my little double-cheddar meatballs.

Just LOOK at all that cheese waiting to pop out of those little albóndigas! I grabbed 6 of them off the pan and tossed them into a little saute pan with some vodka sauce (the only thing here that wasn’t homemade).

While the meatballs were getting acquainted with the sauce, the tagliatelle were taking a quick 3-minute bath in the salted water. When 3 minutes were up, the tagliatelle joined the party and got tossed lightly with the sauce.

Here’s what it all looked like when everyone in the pan got to be good friends:

After we had poured ourselves some drinks, we sat down to enjoy these plates of deliciousness. The meatballs were moist, savory, and had just the right level of cheesiness. The pasta was absolutely silken. I was so focused on the pure “mmm” factor that it didn’t even bother me that it was nearly 80 degrees in our apartment. =)

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