Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond

Rigatoni and Meatballs

I always wanted to be Italian. It never materialized for me, though. Something about the fact that none of my ancestors were Italian. Details can be so annoying sometimes. Despite my lack of Italian heritage, however, I have to say that my meatballs ain't bad at all. Marlboro Man loves them, and because long, round noodles (some humans refer to them as "spaghetti") are cumbersome and unwieldy, I take the easy road and serve mine with rigatoni.
  • Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings
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6 thick slices crusty bread

3/4 pound ground beef

3/4 pound ground pork

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

Rigatoni and sauce:

1 yellow onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup red wine (optional)

one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

12 fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade (optional)

2 pounds rigatoni, cooked al dente


  1. Place the bread on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes in a 200 degrees F oven, or until totally dry.
  2. Break the bread into chunks . . .
  3. And pulse [in food processor] until the bread turns into crumbs.
  4. Throw the meat into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the garlic, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, grated Parmesan, milk, salt, and pepper. Use clean hands to mix together until well combined.
  6. Use a scoop to retrieve a small amount of the meat mixture . . . And roll it in your hands to make meatballs (about 25). Place the pan in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, just to firm them up.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Working with 8 to 10 meatballs at a time, cook them until brown but not cooked all the way through, 2 to 3 minutes per batch.
  8. Remove from the pan to a plate while you make the rigatoni and sauce.
  9. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Stir and cook for a minute or two, until the onion begins to soften.
  10. Add the wine and cook for another minute. (Just omit this step if you're not using wine.)
  11. Add the crushed tomatoes...whole tomatoes... salt, pepper, and sugar . . . And parsley and basil.
  12. Stir the sauce to combine all the ingredients . . . Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  13. Then throw in the meat-a-balls!
  14. Stir gently, then cover and cook for 20 more minutes, stirring once or twice, until the meatballs are cooked through.
  15. Heap the rigatoni on a large platter and pile the meatballs and sauce on the top. Sprinkle on some extra minced parsley and serve with extra grated Parmesan.
  16. This is a good one, my friends.
  17. I mean . . . i miei amici.
  18. Sincerely,
  19. Costanza

Cook’s Note

Variations Use leftover meatballs to make Meatball Sliders. Slice leftover meatballs and use as a pizza topping.

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