Try a taste of Italy with recipes from Two Meatballs In the Italian Kitchen by Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman, including Meatballs with Spaghetti Coco Pazzo (Polpettine con Spaghetti); Baked Penne with Radicchio and Sausage (Penne Pasticatte); and Lobster Fra Diavolo (Aragosta Fra Diavolo).
Serves 1 to 6
Pino: I first had this dish in Bolzano, in northern Italy. I was with my kids on a ski vacation and the cook at the pensione where we were staying heated up what was probably some leftover casserole for us to eat when we arrived. Leftover or not, it was delicious and just right for the cold weather. Here the radicchio, often combined with game or roasted meat in northern Italy, brings a wonderful smoky flavor to the dish. The sausage and milk give it richness, and the cheese sprinkled on top becomes deliciously crunchy when baked.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (190 degrees C). Lightly butter an 8-by-12-inch baking dish.
Heat a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add the sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the fat is rendered and the sausage has lost its pink color. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the radicchio, stir well, and cook, stirring until it is soft and well blended with the sausage, about 4 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, fill a 10-quart stockpot with 7 quarts (6.5 liters) of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons salt. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the sausage. Add the milk and eggs and mix well. Pour into the prepared dish and sprinkle the top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Transfer to the oven and bake until the top looks a bit crunchy and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Wine: A rich dish with bitterness from the radicchio, this requires a full and intense red like Brunello di Montalcino. Two of my favorite estates are Argiano and Colombini Barbi. If you choose a different estate, make sure that the wine is at least 5 or 6 years old.
This page created February 2008
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