Favorites from the Franks
Watch chef duo The Franks pull double duty preparing Meatballs, The Spuntino Way, and Ricotta Cheesecake using the Flex Duo™ oven.
- 4 slices bread (2 packed cups’ worth)
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus about 1 cup for serving
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 15 turns white pepper
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
- Tomato Sauce
- Heat the oven to 325ºF. Put the fresh bread in a bowl, cover it with water, and let it soak for a minute or so. Pour off the water and wring out the bread, then crumble and tear it into tiny pieces.
- Combine the bread with all the remaining ingredients except the tomato sauce in a medium mixing bowl, adding them in the order they are listed. Add the dried breadcrumbs last to adjust for wetness: the mixture should be moist wet, not sloppy wet.
- Shape the meat mixture into handball-sized meatballs and space them evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The meatballs will be firm but still juicy and gently yielding when they’re cooked through. (At this point, you can cool the meatballs and hold them in the refrigerator for as long as a couple of days or freeze them for the future.)
- Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce in a sauté pan large enough to accommodate the meatballs comfortably.
- Dump the meatballs into the pan of sauce and nudge the heat up ever so slightly. Simmer the meatballs for half an hour or so (this isn’t one of those cases where longer is better) so they can soak up some sauce. Keep them there until it’s time to eat.
- Serve the meatballs 3 to a person in a healthy helping of the red sauce, and hit everybody’s portion—never the pan—with a fluffy mountain of grated cheese. Reserve the leftover tomato sauce (it will be super-extra-delicious) and use it anywhere tomato sauce is called for in this book.
SERVINGS: 6, 18 - 20 Meatballs Print Recipe
Our cheesecake is an adaptation of a recipe from Falcinelli’s mom, Marie, who made it with a graham cracker crust instead of the pastry crust we use.
- 1/2 recipe Pate Brisee (recipe follows)
- 6 large eggs, separated
- Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 pound (about 1 pint ricotta)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Grated zest of ½ lemon
- Grated zest of ½ orange
- Heat the oven to 325ºF. Roll out the dough to a 10-inch circle. Lay it in a 9 or 10 inch springform pan and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly colored. Cool the crust on a rack.
- Put the yolks in a large mixing bowl and stir them briefly with a fork, just until they’re a homogenous, silky puddle of yellow. Add the cream cheese, ricotta, sugar, vanilla, and zests and, using a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, beat the mixture until it’s smooth and even. (You could also do this in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment—though you might want to use that mixer to whip your egg whites. Of course you could always whip the egg whites first, transfer them to another bowl, then cream the fats and sugar, and fold in the egg whites. Then again, you could be one of those people with an extra bowl for your mixer — in which case, good for you. You can make the machine do all the work. Or maybe you’ve got one of those handheld mixers…. Well, regardless of how you’re outfitted, you’ll need the fats and sugars creamed in one bowl — preferably the larger, if there’s a choice — and stiff-whipped egg whites in another)
- Whip the egg whites with a whisk or electric mixer until they hold stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cheese-yolk mixture. Usually the word “gently” comes into play in a recipe like this, but for this batter, you really need them integrated into the whole thing. Don’t worry if you’re deflating them; it’s okay.
- Pour the cheesecake batter into the prebaked crust and pop the pan into the oven. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave it in there for 1 hour more.
- Refrigerate the cake until it’s completely cooled. Remove the outer ring from the springform pan and, if you like, transfer the cheesecake to a serving platter. The cheesecake will keep for a couple days in the fridge, though it’s unlikely it will last that long. Let it warm up a little from fridge before serving.
SERVINGS: 6 - 8 Print Recipe
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- Small pinch of fine sea salt
- 3 1/3 cups (about 1 pound) all-purpose flour
- Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn on the machine to a low speed and cream them together; if you start with room-temperature butter, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, letting each one be subsumed into the butter-sugar mixture before adding the next. With the mixer still running at a low speed, add the whole egg and the salt. Once they’ve started to be incorporated, begin adding the flour, in three or four additions. Do not wait for the flour to be completely incorporated before adding more; just give it a few seconds to let it start to get to know the butter. Mix only until the dough has come together into a tacky, fatty, moist mass. It will be a messy beast to handle at this point, but do not over mix it —after a few hours in the fridge, it will be far more manageable.
- Split the dough into two lumps, shape each one into a disk, and wrap them in plastic wrap. Chill for as long as possible: 2 or 3 hours is the bare minimum, 4 hours is preferable, overnight is ideal. Freeze one of the two if you don’t need both; wrapped tightly, it will keep in the freezer for up to a month with no degradation in quality. (Thaw it in the refrigerator.)
- Turn the oven to 325ºF. Very, very lightly flour your counter or work surface and have a dish of flour close at hand for when things get sticky. Quickly roll out the chilled dough to a rough 12-inch round that’s a little less than 1/8 inch thick. (The warmer and more worked the dough gets, the stickier it will be. If it’s not rolling right, stop: put it on a baking sheet and put it in the freezer to chill. Have a beer, or take the dog for a walk. After 20 or 30 minutes, the dough will be more compliant. Keeping the butter cold is the key.)
- If you’re using a fluted tart pan, lay the tart dough in, pressing gently to nudge it into the flutes. If you’re using a springform pan, cover the bottom and go up the sides a little carefully fitting it into the pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until it’s lightly colored. Transfer to a rack to cool before filling.
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