Strozzapreti with tiny meatballs
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 shallots, finely chopped
3 parsley stalks
Sea salt and black pepper
150 ml dry white wine
800 g canned whole peeled tomatoes
2 fresh bay leaves
Reggiano or pecorino, to serve
400g tipo 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
Finely ground semolina
Flour (semola rimacinata), for dusting
250g pork mince (not too lean)
250g beef or veal mince
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium–low heat. Add the shallot, parsley stalks and a good pinch of salt and gently cook, stirring occasionally, for 10–12 minutes, until the shallot is soft and just beginning to colour. Increase the heat to medium, pour in the wine and scrape the base to lift any caramelised bits. Pour in the tomatoes along with 200 ml of water, then scrunch in the bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium–low and gently simmer the sauce for 30–40 minutes, until slightly reduced and rich in colour.
Meanwhile, to make the strozzapreti, tip the tipo 00 flour onto a clean work surface and mix with a large pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour in 250 ml (1 cup) of warm water a little at a time and use your hands to slowly bring the flour into the water in a circular motion, then mix with your hands until the dough begins to come together (a pastry scraper helps).
Knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth, adding a little more flour if the dough is sticky. Once the dough begins to look smooth, it is important that you clean your hands and work surface of any dry dough. This will prevent the dough picking up flecks of dry dough as you knead it. Cover the dough with an upturned bowl and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface until it is 2mm thick. You can also do this with a pasta machine. Just divide the dough into four pieces and, working with one piece at a time, roll it out until it reaches the desired thickness. Dust the dough with semolina flour, then roll the short ends into the centre so they meet in the middle and cut the dough into 6 mm wide strips. Unravel the dough strips, then take one strip and hold the top section between your hands. Rub your hands together to create a twisted, tubular shape, then pinch it off with your fingers. Move the next piece of the strip into your palms and repeat the twisting and pinching until the whole strip has been used up. Arrange the strozzapreti on a clean tea towel dusted with semolina flour and continue with the remaining dough.
To make the meatballs, combine all of the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl. Roll the mixture into tiny meatballs, the size of hazelnuts. Heat a large frying pan over high heat and add the olive oil. Working in batches, cook the meatballs, shaking the pan to turn them over, for about 3 minutes, until browned and mostly cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and stir though.
Cook the strozzapreti in a large saucepan of salted boiling water forabout 3 minutes, until chewy but not chalky. Drain the strozzapreti, reserving 250 ml (1 cup) of the pasta cooking water. Add the strozzapreti to the tomato sauce and meatballs, along with some of the cooking water to help coat the pasta. Simmer the pasta and sauce together for a few minutes until slightly thickened again, and the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with plenty of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino.
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