8. Spaghetti and Bone Marrow Marinara Meatballs
- 1 yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 32 ounce can whole tomatoes and their juices
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces ground pork
- 8 ounces ground beef
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup bone marrow, chopped
- 12 ounces dry spaghetti
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs, toasted
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large pot, mix the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove half of the contents from the pot and let cool to lukewarm. Transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate to cool completely. Meanwhile, add the tomato paste to the pot with the remaining onions and cook, stirring, until the natural sugars in the paste begin to caramelize and it is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing burns, until heated through.
- Add the red wine and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes to give the alcohol in the wine a chance to evaporate. Use a wooden spoon to stir and scrape up any bits that might stick to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally to ensure the sauce does not burn, for about 18 minutes longer.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir the ricotta with the refrigerated onion-garlic mixture. Add the ground pork, ground beef, basil, oregano, sage, and rosemary. Gently mix the meat with your hands and, when just combined, add the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly, but take care not to overmix. (If you handle the meat too much, the fat will emulsify from the heat of your hands and the meatballs will be dense and leaden.) Shape the meat into meatballs the size of Ping-Pong balls.
- In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan and adding a little more oil as needed, sear the meatballs lightly on all sides until they begin to brown. They will not be fully cooked. Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce, add the bone marrow, and simmer the sauce over low heat for about 20 minutes to finish cooking the meatballs and allow the bone marrow to render its fat. Make sure to add any accumulated fat from the meatballs to this sauce!
- While the meatballs and sauce are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce and meatballs. Toss well and serve immediately, garnished with the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.