When I lived in the Campania region of Southern Italy, I was my Nonna Annunziata’s sous-chef. I was in charge of making meatballs that would be added to the traditional tomato sauce – every Sunday! At age 10, the kitchen was the last place I wanted to hang out in. And, I got so bored with the usual meatballs that I didn’t eat any for years.
Thanks to my husband, who is from Mexico, I’ve learned to combine a few “His-and-Hers” ingredients and invented this recipe. First, I make the “hot” tomato-chipotle sauce (yes, I add those smoky chiles to the tomatoes). Once the sauce is made, I stir some of it into the meatball mixture and “Ay-ay-ay – che pasta deliziosa!”
Prep time: 20 minutes (forTomato Chipotle Sauce); 30 minutes (for Meatballs)
Serves: 4 to 6
1 medium yellow or white onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
One 32-ounce can Muir Glen Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1 to 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce*
Salt & ground black pepper, to taste
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 bay leaves
1 pound fettuccine (to be cooked later)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 pounds ground dark turkey meat
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow or white onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped, fresh oregano
3 tablespoons finely chopoped, fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Dash ground black pepper
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
1 large egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup tomato-chipotle sauce (this was set aside earlier, to cool)
PREPARE THE SAUCE:
1. In a food processor, chop the onion and garlic; set aside.
2. Pour the oil in a 6-quart sauce pot set on high heat.
3. When oil is hot but not smoking, stir in the onion-garlic mixture and sauté on medium-high heat for 2 minutes until onion is translucent. Remove sauce pot from heat and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, in a blender, purée the tomatoes with one chipotle chile. Taste and, if more heat is desired, add another chipotle chile; purée.
5. Return the sauce pot to a hot burner set on medium-high. Stir in the puréed tomato-chiles, salt, black pepper, nutmeg and sugar.
6. Bring the sauce to a boil and add the leaves. Stir the sauce, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. After 15 minutes, turn off the burner.
8. In a glass or porcelain bowl, set aside 3/4 cup of the tomato-chipotle sauce to cool. Cover remaining sauce in sauce pot and set aside.
9. In a 6-quart sauce pot set on medium heat, bring 3-1/2 quarts water to boil. Lower heat and keep water at a gentle boil.
MEANWHILE, PREPARE THE MEATBALLS:
1. Wash and dry hands. In a large glass or porcelain mixing bowl, combine above ingredients and gently mix with clean hands.
2. Wash hands again. With slightly wet hands, shape meat into 2-inch balls. Set the meatballs on a platter.
3. Bring the water in pot to a high boil.
4. Gently drop each meatball into pot and cook or boil the meatballs approximately 8 minutes.
5. After 8 minutes, test one meatball by putting it on a plate and cutting it in half. If the inside of the meatball is no longer pink, but gray, it is done. If the meat is still pink, boil the meatballs another 3 to 4 minutes.
6. With a slotted spoon, remove meatballs from boiling water and transfer them to the tomato-chipotle sauce.
7. Bring the sauce with meatballs to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Set sauce pot aside.
COOK THE FETTUCCINE:
1. Fill another 6-quart sauce pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the fettuccine and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt.
2. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until “al dente” (crunchy-tender).
3. After 8 minutes, taste the pasta. If it is not tender enough, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Taste again to check doneness of pasta. Drain pasta in a colander.
4. Return the pasta to pot and stir in 2 to 3 ladles of the tomato-chipotle sauce. If more sauce is desired, add 1 to 2 more ladles of sauce to the pasta.
5. Serve pasta in individual bowls with 1 to 2 meatballs. Ask guests to add grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, if desired.
Wine pairing suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti.
*Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are a canned product and carried in the international foods section of a supermarket or a Latin American specialty store.
Text & Photographs © 2012 Nancy DeLucia Real