Orecchiette with Bacon Meatballs

Bacon meatballs are the key flavor moment in this pasta. When shaping the meatballs, make sure you can see bits of the bacon sticking out. They crisp up in the skillet, and their drippings form the base for the simple pan sauce.

3 users rated this recipe an average rating of 4.5
  • Makes: 4 servings
  • Yields: 30 mini meatballs
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 23 mins to 30 mins
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Orecchiette with Bacon Meatballs
ounces ground pork
slices bacon or uncured smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
cloves garlic, finely chopped
teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
tablespoons olive oil
ounces dried orecchiette pasta
small shallots, thinly sliced
large tomatoes, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
cups kale or spinach, coarsely chopped
teaspoon salt
cup shaved Parmesan (optional)
  1. In a medium bowl combine pork, bacon, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper until well mixed. Using a teaspoon, scoop the mixture into the palm of your hand and shape into 1-inch meatballs. Pieces of the bacon should be visible.
  2. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs. Cook and stir until meatballs are browned on all sides and the bacon is crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to paper towel; drain. Repeat with remaining meatballs. Reserving 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings in the skillet; set aside.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions in lightly salted water; drain. Reserving about 1/4 cup of cooking liquid.
  4. Cook shallot in reserved bacon dripping, over medium-high heat, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with wooden spoon to release the brown bits. Return meatballs to the skillet. Add tomatoes; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add pasta and kale; toss to combine, adding pasta liquid as needed to moisten the pasta. Season with salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with Parmesan before serving.
From the Test Kitchen

Extra thick bacon does not work with this recipe. It's too big for the mini meatballs and doesn't stay incorporated into the meatballs when cooking.

Nutrition Facts (Orecchiette with Bacon Meatballs)
    Per serving:
  • 673 kcal cal.,
  • 37 g fat
  • (11 g sat. fat,
  • 6 g polyunsaturated fat,
  • 18 g monounsatured fat),
  • 83 mg chol.,
  • 490 mg sodium,
  • 55 g carb.,
  • 5 g fiber,
  • 6 g sugar,
  • 32 g pro.
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
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