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Angiulino’s Ultimate Pasta al Forno
with Teeny Meatballs
From La Bella Cucina
By Viana La Place, 2001, Crown Publishing Group
Best of the Best Vol. 5: The Best Recipes
from the 25 Best Cookbooks of the Year
Food & Wine Books, Editor in Chief Judith Hill,
American Express Publishing Corp.
“Angiulino’s place – trattoria is too fancy a name for this simple
ment – is one of the oldest still-functioning hole-in-the-wall
places in Lecce.
You walk down narrow cobblestone streets with marvels of
baroque architecture on either side of you – not the overly
ornate and ponder-
ous style we think of immediately when the word baroque is
in the Salento, the| baroque buildings are exuberant, yes,
but it is a happy
exuberance – nothing tortured or sinister about it, just
fruits and flowers
and decorative elements combined on the lighthearted
façades carved from
regional golden limestone.
Angiulino’s place has the simple foods I love:
steamed mussels, cooked
greens, thin breaded cutlets, and, of course, his
pasta al forno, a dish
that is soul-satisfying right down to your toes. And
don’t forget the red
wine, preferably a light, fresh red wine like the one
Angiulino pours for
Simple Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 fresh bay leaf
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
Two 28-ounce cans imported whole peeled
San Marzano plum tomatoes
1/2 pound freshly ground beef
1/2 pound freshly ground pork
About 2 cups dried country bread, soaked in
water, then squeezed dry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
Generous grindings of black pepper
Assembling the dish
1 pound rigatoni, preferably artisanal
Drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh mozzarella in water, drained
and coarsely shredded
1 1/2 cups grated pecorino cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
Heat the olive oil and onion in a large sauté pan over low
heat until the
onion is tender and transparent. Add the garlic, bay leaf,
and cook for an additional few minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices, first squeezing out the
seeds from the tomatoes or gently scooping them out with your fingers.
Season with salt. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes break down
into a sauce.
Use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes as they cook.
salt. Set aside.
Combine the ingredients for the polpettine until amalgamated.
Wet your hands lightly with water. Shape the mixture into very small
size of marbles, and not any larger.
Lightly oil a baking sheet. Arrange the meatballs on the
space between the polpettine. Cook the meatballs under a
on low for about 4 minutes, shaking the baking sheet every so
evenly distribute the heat. Drain the meatballs on paper towels.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees [F]. It must be very hot when
Cook the pasta in abundant salted boiling water. Drain when
half cooked, about 5 minutes or so, and toss with a few drops of olive oil
pasta from sticking.
Moisten the inside of a large baking dish with olive oil. The
of choice is a tiella, a glazed ceramic vessel, one measuring 12
inches in diameter. Or use a 10 x 14-inch gratin dish.
Toss the rigatoni with the tomato sauce, polpettine,
mozzarella, and 1 cup
of the grated pecorino cheese. Sprinkle the top evenly
with bread crumbs and the remaining grated cheese. Drizzle with a few fine
threads of olive
Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until the top is golden
for 10 minutes, or up to 20 minutes if you can bear waiting,
ingredients to adhere. Serve it forth, cut into wedges that
fall apart very appealingly.
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