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Italian Meatballs and Sausages with Rigatoni



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Several Types of Noodles, Tomato Sauce
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Italian Meatballs and Sausages
with Rigatoni

Mimi Sheraton in
The James Beard Collection
by the James Beard Foundation, edited by
Barbara Kafka, 1990 Wings Books


“Mimi Sheraton is one of America’s best-known reporters and cookbook
authors. There is almost no area of the food world in which she has not
been brilliantly active…”

“Jim Beard and I were more colleagues and neighbors than close friends and,
as such,  I worked with him on several projects at Restaurant Associates and
met him often in food markets in Greenwich Village. I remember Jim best
from those meetings, because his presence at Balducci’s or at the Jefferson
Market meat counter always created a festive atmosphere for all shoppers. It
also satisfied them because they felt justified in their choice of markets. How
could they not, when America’s leading gourmand and bon vivant made the
same choice?
“For me, Jim Beard’s strong point was his appreciation of the simplest and
most humble dishes and the way in which he accorded them the respect of
using only the best ingredients and handling them with care. In that same
spirit, I offer this recipe for meatballs with sausages and rigatoni, the kind
of dish I would have served to Jim had he ever come to dinner. It is also
very good with polenta instead of pasta.”

2 1/2 pounds lean ground chuck
2 eggs
Grated rind of 2 lemons
1 clove garlic, crushed in garlic press
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
3 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds hot Italian sausage
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage with fennel
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 large cans Italian plum tomatoes (each
2 pounds 3 ounces), drained and
chopped, with liquid reserved
1 large onion studded with 8 cloves
5 or 6 sprigs of parsley
Tomato paste to taste, optional
1 tablespoon dried oregano, or to taste
5 or 6 leaves fresh basil
2 1/2 pounds dry rigatoni cooked al dente
in boiling, well-salted water
Optional garnishes: minced parsley, grated Parmesan
cheese, and Italian hot red pepper flakes

 In a large bowl, using a fork, combine room temperature ground beef
with eggs, lemon rind, crushed garlic, cheese, minced parsley, bread
crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well but do not make this
mixture too dense and compact. Lightly shape into 10 or 12 large
meatballs and set aside.
Cut the sausage into 1-inch lengths. Heat 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil in
a large heavy skillet and in it fry sliced garlic for a few seconds until it
is pale golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large Dutch
oven or similar pot. Add sausages to pan and brown well on all sides,
adding oil if needed, and turning pieces so they brown evenly. Place
sausages in pot with garlic.
Brown meatballs in skillet, adding only as many as will fit without touch-
ing each other. Turn gently with a wooden spatula until brown in all sides.
Place meatballs in pot with sausages. Pour excess oil out of skillet and add
chopped, drained tomatoes. Simmer and scrape in all bits of browned meat.
Pour tomatoes over meatballs.
Add clove-studded onion to pot, along with sprigs of parsley and oregano. Simmer gently, half-covered, for 1 hour, shaking pot frequently to prevent scorching. Gradually add salt and pepper as cooking progresses. If sauce is thinner than you want it to be, gradually stir in tomato paste, a teaspoon at
a time, simmering for 5 minutes between additions, until you have the right consistency. If the sauce is too thick, thin gradually with reserved tomato
liquid. Add the basil leaves for the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Before
serving, remove the onion and cloves, along with sprigs of parsley and
basil leaves.
Divide hot, cooked rigatoni into individual bowls (I use old-fashioned wide soup plates) and top each with one meatball and a few pieces of sausage. This amount allows for seconds for the hungry. Sprinkle with parsley and
pass grated cheese and hot pepper. Serves 6 to 8.

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