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Big Beef Meatballs with Bucatini

Big Beef Meatballs with Bucatini


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin

  • 2 small to medium yellow onion, 1 grated and 1 finely chopped

  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped, divided

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2-2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs, (a couple of overflowing handfuls)

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus some to pass at table

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg

  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped

  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage leaves, (4-6 sprigs)

  • A couple generous handfuls flat leaf parsley, chopped, divided

  • Salt and pepper

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus some for drizzling

  • 1 pound bucatini (thick, hollow spaghetti)

  • 1/4 pound pancetta, chopped

  • 12 baby portobello caps, (crimini mushrooms), chopped

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, (eyeball it)

  • 1 cup, (8 ounces), beef stock

  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces), San Marzano if available


Preheat 400°F.

Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.

Mix meat with the grated onion, 3 cloves chopped garlic, egg, bread crumbs, cheese, allspice, capers, sage, a handful of the chopped parsley, salt and pepper and a healthy drizzle of EVOO. Mix meat, score the meat into 4 sections and make 3 very large balls from each section. Arrange the 12 balls on a nonstick cookie sheet and roast 15 minutes until firm but not hard.

Drop bucatini in salted boiling water to cook off. Drain.

Add another tablespoon of EVOO to the skillet and the pancetta. Cook 3-4 minutes then add the remaining garlic and mushrooms to the pan and cook 5 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add remaining chopped onion and deglaze the pan with wine, cook off 1 minute, add in stock and whisk up remaining drippings. Stir in the tomatoes and season sauce with salt and pepper, if necessary. Stir in parsley. Simmer 5 minutes.

Toss pasta with half the sauce. Remove balls from oven and add to remaining sauce and turn to coat. Serve large balls, 3 per person, along side pasta. Spoon any remaining sauce over the pasta. Pass extra cheese at the tables.