Baked Rigatoni w/ Broccoli & Tiny Meatballs
For the bechamel
- 4 1/2 cups of milk
- 6 TB butter
- 6 TB flour
- A pinch of grated nutmeg
- Salt & pepper
For the meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup freshly grated hard cheese, like Vella or Parmesan
- 2 TB chopped parsley
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 slice white bread, trimmed of crust
- 1/4 cup mild oil like canola or grape seed
- 1 lb rigatoni
- 3/4 cup freshly grated hard cheese, like Vella or parmesan
- 2 TB butter
To make the meatballs
- Break the bread into big pieces and place in a bowl with the milk to soak for 10 minutes.
- Pick the bread out of the bowl with your hands, and squeeze it gently to get out excess milk. Place it in a large bowl with the rest of the meatball ingredients, salt and pepper, and mix well.
- Form the mixture into tiny meatballs about the size of your thumb or, if you don't have patience for this, into slightly bigger meatballs.
- Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the meatballs in small batches. When one batch is done, transfer it with a slotted spoon to a platter covered with paper towels until all the meatballs are done.
- Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into small florets, about the size of your thumb or smaller, and steam or blanch them until tender but still slightly crisp.
To make the bechamel
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until well combined. Continue whisking over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes. Trade your whisk for a spoon and add the cold milk to the pan. Stir vigorously until all lumps are gone. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the rigatoni in a pot of salted water, and drain while still al dente. Mix with the broccoli, two thirds of the bechamel, all of the meatballs, and half the grated cheese. Butter a 9x13 baking dish and pour the mix into the pan. Even out with a spatula, and top with the remaining bechamel, dabs of butter, and the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbling.
- Making the bechamel sauce in advance makes putting this dish together much easier!
/Narrative Food http://blog.narrativefood.com/