First of all, Merry Christmas all you foodie people, you. And second, who eats pasta for Christmas??? Well, as it turns out, lots of people. Here at the Circle B Kitchen we can’t imagine a Christmas without our Christmas pasta, but no, actually, we don’t serve it on Christmas day. Every year on the 23rd we have our “Make-a-Gift” Christmas party in which we exchange gifts that we have made for the person whose name we drew the year before. We have a whole year to make a gift for that person, and I have to say that some of these creations are absolutely astounding.
In addition to a gift that I make for that person, every year I make this pasta for everyone, and in a way it’s my gift to them all. In defiance of all that we hold dear throughout the year, this pasta is somewhat decadent and yes, celebratory in an indulgent sort of way.
We’re talkin’ bacon, sausage, meatballs, cream, mozzarella and parmesan all crowded together in this awesomely delicious bowl of goodness. It’s everything you want on an evening when spirits are high and you're lookin' to mix a little naughty with the nice.
So, Merry Christmas to you all. We wish you joy, health, happiness and lots of good food to share with those you love. How about some pasta for Christmas?
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 pound bacon, cut into small pieces
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup good quality dry red wine
1 cup prepared chicken or beef stock
2 (32-ounce) cans whole tomatoes (pureed with a hand blender or regular blender)
1 lb. fresh mozarella, cubed
1/3 cup cream
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon (or more) crushed red pepper
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 ½ pounds penne rigate, cooked to al dente
1/2 lb Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
For the Meatballs
2 lbs of ground meat
2/3 cup fresh or dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese
½ cup minced onion
3 tsp salt1 tsp fresh black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 to 4 tablespoons of milk (just enough to moisten the mixture)
Combine the meatball ingredients and form into golf-ball sized meatballs. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (I used my very large 14-inch braiser) and brown the meatballs on all sides (no need to cook them through completely. Set the meatballs aside.
In the same pan brown the bacon and sausage. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the allspice, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Stir a couple of minutes until fragrant and then add the wine and stock. Add the blended tomatoes, combine well and add the meatballs into the sauce. Cover, reduce the heat and let this simmer for an hour or so. Taste for salt and pepper. Add more crushed red pepper if necessary.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions and drain. Remove the meatballs from the sauce and keep warm. Stir the cream into the sauce and then add the pasta along with the parsley, chopped mozzarella and a good handful of the parmesan cheese.
Place the pasta in a serving bowl or platter surrounded by the meatballs. Dust with some of the grated parmesan. Serve the remaining parmesan at the table.