Two classics marry in one totally delicious bowl of comfort food. Baked to a golden goodness with molten cheese on top, this was a team favourite on our photo shoot day.
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
150 grams ricotta or cottage cheese
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
2 tablespoons milk or water
1 large egg
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
finely grated zest 1 lemon
500 grams pork mince
1 tablespoon each olive oil and butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 leek, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
¼-½ teaspoon chilli flakes
sea salt and ground pepper
50 grams butter
¼ cup plain flour
3 cups whole milk
½ cup cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
100 grams cheddar, grated, plus 30 grams extra for topping
60 grams gruyère, grated, plus 30 grams extra for topping
½ cup freshly grated parmesan, plus ½ cup extra for topping
500 grams macaroni or other small tube pasta
Equipment: 6-cup capacity ovenproof baking dish.
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan bake.
Meatballs: Combine all the ingredients except the pork in a large bowl and leave for 15 minutes. Add the pork and mix until fully combined. Hands are good for this. Form into about 24 large walnut-sized meatballs. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and, when hot, quickly brown the meatballs. They won’t be fully cooked. Set aside. The meatballs can be browned several hours ahead of assembling.
To cook: Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan and cook the onion, leek, garlic, fennel seeds and chilli with a good pinch of salt for 10 minutes or until very tender. Set aside.
Melt the 50 grams butter in a large saucepan and whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook over a low heat for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in the combined milk and cream, whisking continuously until smooth. Stir in the mustard and nutmeg and season well. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the three cheeses until melted and smooth. Stir in three-quarters of the leek mixture and set the rest aside.
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water for 2 minutes less than the package instructions, then drain well. Combine the pasta with the sauce and tip into the baking dish. Nestle in the meatballs, then dot over the remaining leek mixture. Scatter over the combined leftover three cheeses and bake for 25 minutes, until golden and bubbling around the edges.
The unmistakable aroma of orange zest, apricot and a jiggle of jasmine tells you that the Gladstone Wairarapa Viognier 2019 ($29) is going to be a great little viognier that’s perfect with anything porky. Grown organically on the ancient rocky terraces of the Ruamāhanga River, this is an ultra-bright, beautifully balanced example of a variety that's notoriously difficult to grow. Fresh, spicy and floral, it's one to invite your mates over to try. And if they don’t like it, that’s awesome. All the more for you! gladstonevineyard.co.nz