I was away all day and had neglected to think about dinner in the morning and possibly defrost something? I didn’t have much choice when I got home, but, I was in the mood to try something different with the only offering in the fridge; ground pork. I made what might have been a run-of-the-mill meatball except I paired it with a very intense, flavorful mushroom cream sauce. I used shiitake mushrooms for their rich flavor, but, don’t let that stop you from using what you have available to you. It was a delightful dinner and was ready in no time.
You will Need: 1 1/3 lbs ground pork, 1 egg, 1 rib celery, including leaves, diced, 1 carrot, diced, 1 onion, diced, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 8 to 9 shiitake mushrooms, diced, 2 peeled and cored plum tomatoes (including juice), diced, (I used tomatoes from a can of San Marzano and 2 tbs of the juice from the can), 1 cup chicken stock (I had some home-made), 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup white wine, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tsp coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1 tbs unsalted butter, 3 tbs olive oil, 3/4 lb penne pasta (I used a ridged mini penne by Barilla).
Preheat oven 425*
1 – Put big saute pan on low/medium heat and add 1 tbs olive oil. Add onion, carrot and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place lid on pan and turn heat down to low and continue to cook for another 6 to seven minutes.
2 – In the meantime, crack egg into a big bowl and beat with a fork. Add the ground pork and 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper. When onion mixture has cooked add to pork and mix everything together with your hands.
3 – Make pork balls and roll in flour and put on plate, (a little smaller than a golf ball in size). When they are all made place a baking sheet in the oven with 1 tbs of olive oil for 3 minutes. Remove and place pork on sheet in a single uniform layer. Cook for 12 minutes, turn and cook for another 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to add to your sauce.
At this point put water on for pasta and cook according to instructions. Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining. Try to time it so as the pasta is cooked at about the same time as the sauce. Do not rinse the pasta in cold water when it is cooked.
4 – While pork is cooking in oven make the mushroom cream sauce. Using same pan you used for frying the vegetables add the butter and 1 tbs olive oil. Put pan on medium heat and add mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5 – Add the tomatoes, juice and wine and cook for 1 minutes before adding the stock, water and cream. Stir the liquids and let everything simmer for about 5 to 8 minutes. Taste for additional salt and pepper.
6 – At this point the meatballs and pasta should be cooked. Add directly into the sauce and turn heat down to low and stir. Add a little of the reserved pasta water if you want a thinner sauce or need to loosen the pasta.