Sauce-and-Meatballs Mac and Cheese with Burrata

Maren Caruso


For the meatballs

  • large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 Cup  ricotta cheese, drained if watery
  • 8 Ounces  ground pork
  • 1 Ounce  aged asiago cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2  slice fresh white or sourdough bread, torn into very small pieces
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  fennel seed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon  red pepper flakes

For the mac and cheese

  • 1 Tablespoon  plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 Ounces  large elbow macaroni
  • 2 Tablespoons  salted butter
  • 1/4 Cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2 Cups  heavy cream
  • 1 Cup  whole or reduced-fat milk
  • 6 Ounces  Taleggio cheese, rind removed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 6 Ounces  fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 Teaspoon  cayenne
  • 2 Cups  jarred tomato sauce
  • One  8-ounce ball burrata cheese, cut into bite-size pieces*

My friends Linda and Kelly Hayes are big meatball fans. (Well, let’s face it: They’re equal-opportunity foodies.) They’re also great cooks. One time I was enjoying yet another delicious meal at their house, and Linda suggested I do a riff on spaghetti and meatballs for this book. What a great idea, I thought. This dish is unquestionably hearty, and yes, it takes a bit longer than some other recipes in this book, but I promise you, the results are totally worth it. Oh, and the burrata (cream-filled mozzarella) on top? Amazing. If you can’t find it, then do yourself a favor and get the best-quality fresh mozzarella you can find.


For the meatballs

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat it with a thin layer of olive oil.

Measure out 1/2 the beaten egg and discard it or reserve for another use. In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta and the remaining egg together until combined.

Put the remaining meatball ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix with your hands or, if you prefer, a wooden spoon. Be careful not to overmix or the meatballs will be tough. Add the egg mixture and stir to combine.

Using about 1 teaspoon of the mixture at a time, form the balls in your hand (you may need to put a little olive oil on your hands to keep the mixture from sticking too much). You want the meatballs to be just ½-inch in diameter. Place them on the prepared baking sheet.

Cook the meatballs in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they are well browned but not hard. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees.

For the mac and cheese

Butter an 8-inch square (1½-quart) baking dish or pan (or six 8-ounce ramekins). Set aside.

Fill a 4- to 5-quart pot about 3/4 full with water and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. Cook, stirring once or twice, until tender but firm, 6-8 minutes, and drain.

Using the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the flour and stir constantly until a paste forms, 30-45 seconds. Continue stirring for 1-2 minutes more, until the mixture starts to darken slightly and smell a bit nutty. Slowly whisk in the cream, milk, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook until the mixture starts to thicken and is just beginning to bubble around the edges, 5-7 minutes. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the Taleggio, mozzarella, and cayenne. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth but not too runny. It should be similar in texture to cake batter. If it’s soupy, continue cooking until it thickens. Add the pasta and meatballs and stir to combine.

To assemble, spread about 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan. Pour the pasta mixture into the pan. Pour the remaining tomato sauce on top of the pasta and top with the burrata. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.


*The burrata may fall apart when cutting, but don't worry about it

From Mac & Cheese, Please! 50 Super Cheesy Recipes by Laura Werlin/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.

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