Winter wreaks havoc on my ability to take good food pictures. So do the new CFLs in my kitchen. But, I guess I just have to soldier on, right? Even though the picture doesn't accurately reflect it, I can telly ou that the recipe for Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Sausage Balls, Tomato-Basil Sauce, Cacio e Pepe Potatoes and Roast Broccolini is seriously outstanding.
This recipe hearkens back to the glory days of 30 Minute Meals 2, when all of Rach's recipes were nice, square meals. No thinking necessary. Just pull out the recipe, get all the ingredients, and you'll have a main dish with sides on the table in about 30 minutes. That's what happened with this recipe, although I think it took me more like 40 to get it done.
As an added bonus in these tough economic times, there are only nine ingredients in this recipe that you will have to get at the store, assuming you have some basics on on hand already. The list of instructions seems long, but the potatoes and broccolini do their own thing on the stove and the oven for awhile, so they aren't really high maintenance. Here's the recipe with my comments in brackets:
9-item grocery list:
2 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes
1 tub bocconcini, bite size fresh mozzarella in water [the only ones I could find were super tiny sized mozzarella ball, so I just put three of them into the meatball.]
2 pounds Italian hot or sweet fresh chicken, turkey or pork sausage, bulk if available
1 1/2 pounds broccolini [If you've never tried it before, now's your chance!]
1 head garlic
1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes [They sell these in the imported food section of my store.]
1/2 cup chicken stock or milk
1 tub grated Pecorino Romano
1 tub good quality fresh pesto from the refrigerated cases of the market
Extra-virgin olive oil, for liberal drizzling, 4 to 5 tablespoons total
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Quarter baby potatoes and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then salt water and cook until tender, about 12 minutes.
While potatoes come up to a boil, place a nonstick baking sheet alongside a mixing bowl. Remove 12 pieces of bite sized mozzarella from the water and set on work surface. Remove sausages from casings, if bulk not available, and place in a bowl. Combine the meat into a single mound then score it into 4 sections. Each section will yield 3 large sausage meatballs. To form each ball, take a handful of meat and wrap it around a piece of mozzarella. Roll 12 balls. Wash up. Coat balls with a drizzle of olive oil. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until cooked through and evenly browned.
While the balls are cooking, trim ends of clean broccolini and scatter evenly over a baking sheet. Grate or chop 2 to 3 cloves of garlic and drizzle the broccolini and garlic with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and roast 12 to 15 minutes to crisp the broccolini tops.
While the broccolini is roasting, add tomatoes to a small pot or skillet, mash with a potato masher and season with salt and pepper. Heat over medium heat then simmer to reduce about 8 to 10 minutes.
When the potatoes are tender, drain and return to the hot pot to dry them out a little. Mash the potatoes with 1/2 cup stock or milk, 1/2 to 2/3 cup grated Romano cheese, a few generous handfuls, lots of black pepper and a little salt.
Turn the heat off the tomatoes and stir in 1/2 cup prepared pesto.
Serve three cheese-stuffed sausage balls with tomato-basil sauce on top or underneath, cacio e pepe smashed potatoes and broccolini alongside.