“ATK Discovery: Don’t Mix in Panade by Hand; Process It!To ensure that meatballs hold their shape, retain moisture and stay tender during cooking, they typically combine the ground meat with a panade, a paste made of milk and bread. The starches and liquid form a gel that coats and lubricates the meat proteins, preventing them from linking together into a tough matrix. What else? ATK advises to use a light touch when rolling the meatballs to prevent them from being dense. To portion the meatballs, use 2 tablespoons or a #30 scoop, loosely filled, of the pork mixture. ”
1⁄4 teaspoonbaking soda
12 ouncesground pork
2 slices hearty white bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1⁄3 cupheavy cream
1⁄3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
2 largeegg yolks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoonfennel seed, coarsely ground (can crush with bottom of heavy skillet)
1 teaspoondried oregano
1⁄2 teaspoonred pepper flakes
12 ouncessweet Italian sausage, casings removed and broken into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoonsolive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (28ounce) can crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen or Red Gold)
1 (15ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
FOR THE MEATBALLS: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Set wire rack in aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet and spray with vegetable oil spray.
Dissolve salt and baking soda in water in large bowl. Add pork, fold gently to combine; let stand for 10 minutes.
Pulse bread, cream, Parmesan, egg yolks, garlic, fennel seeds, oregano, pepper and pepper flakes in food processor until smooth paste forms, about 10 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add pork mixture (do not wash out bowl) and pulse until mixture is well combined, about 5 pulses.
Transfer half of pork mixture to now-empty large bowl. Add sausage to processor and pulse until just combined, 4 to 5 pulses. Transfer sausage-pork mixture to bowl with pork mixture. Using your hands, gently fold together until mixture is just combined.
With your wet hands, lightly shape mixture into 1 3/4-inch round meatballs (about 1 ounce each); you should have about 24 meatballs. Arrange meatballs, evenly spaced, on prepared wire rack and bake until browned, about 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE: While meatballs bake, heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt to taste.
Add meatballs to sauce and gently simmer, turning them occasionally, for 10 minutes. Cover and keep warm over low heat.
Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.
Add 1/2 cup sauce and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water to pasta and toss to combine, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed. Transfer pasta to large serving platter and top with meatballs and remaining sauce. Serve, passing extra Parmesan separately.