Sorry for the long absence! Summer has started and I just went on mental vacation I suppose. I also haven't made anything too exciting, just kind of out of kitchen mode. Do you ever have that happen? Anyways, back to the kitchen!
Five year anniversary dinner at Fearings!
We have a sweet couple that just had a sweet little boy, and therefore a comforting and filling meal is in order to make their new life as a family of three a bit easier. I chose to make a dish I have made before for another couple and their new baby. It makes a large amount so that it can easily be frozen and reheated for dinners, lunches or mid-night snacks. Fair warning, this takes a bit of time and includes quite a few ingredients.
Oh hi there cute little ones!
I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs: Smitten Kitchen.
Beautiful Cort sunbathing.
Cute Shafer just doing what she does best...being cute!
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Ingredients for the meatballs:
1/4 cup of milk
1 slice of white bread, trimmed of crust and slightly dry
1 pound of ground beef
1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of flour
veggie oil for simmering
Ingredients for bèchamel:
4 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Ingredients for finishing the dish:
1 pound rigatoni
3/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 tablespoon butter for preparing your baking dish
Steps for meatballs:
1. Heat the milk over a low burner, do not let the milk come to a simmer.
2. Tear small pieces of the white bread into the milk and let it soak for about 5 minutes.
3. Once the bread is soaked through, pick it up with your hands and squeeze off the excess milk.
4. Place the "wrung out" bread in a large mixing bowl.
5. Into the large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, garlic, grated cheese, egg, salt and pepper.
6. Gently mix all of the ingredients together, until you cannot differentiate between the different ingredients, they should be fully integrated with each other.
7. With your hands, gather a small bit of the mixture, about the size of a pecan.
8. Roll this lump between your hands to for a nice cylindrical ball.
9. Repeat this gathering and rolling process until all of the mixture is transformed into small meatballs.
10. Sprinkle the cup of flour onto a plate.
11. Roll each meatball around on the plate until fully coated in flour.
12. Once all the meatballs are floured, place them in a strainer and shake to remove excess flour.
13. Place your large skillet over medium high heat, and add enough veggie oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and then creep up the sides about 1/4 an inch.
14. When the oil is hot (sizzles when you put the meatballs in it), place about 10 meatballs in the skillet. Do not overcrowd your skillet.
15. Cook the meatballs, turning occasionally, until a rich brown crust forms.
16. As you finish each batch, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel covered surface.
Steps for bèchamel:
1. In a saucepan over low heat, heat the milk until small pearly bubbles form around the edge of the saucepan. Do not let the milk come to a full boil.
2. In a larger saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter.
3. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, add the flour to the melted butter. Keep stirring constantly until combined.
4. For a total of 8 additions, add 2 tablespoons of milk at a time to the flour and butter mixture, stirring constantly.
5. Once these 8 additions have been made, you can start adding the milk 1/2 a cup at a time. Be sure to continue stirring constantly. You want a very smooth and silky texture.
6. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
7. Continue to stir the sauce until it thickens a bit. You want it to coat the back of the spoon.
Steps to finish the dish:
(This picture includes extra milk, I did not use it as I thought the mixture was creamy enough.)
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and butter your 9 x 13 baking dish. (I used one which could be thrown away so they did not have to worry about getting my dish cleaned and back to me.)
2. In a well salted pot of boiling water, cook the rigatoni until al dente.
3. Drain the pasta in a strainer and place back in the large pot.
4. To the pasta, add two thirds of the bèchamel sauce, half of the grated cheese, and all of the meatballs.
5. Gently mix together.
6. Evenly spread the rigatoni and meatball mixture into the pan. Be sure to level the mixture across the top.
7. Spread the rest of the bèchamel on top and then sprinkle the remaining grated cheese.
8. Place in your oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top becomes golden brown in color, and delicately crunchy in texture.