Sardinian Gnocchetti with Tomato Sauce
(Mallòreddus a Sa Campidanesa)
Mallòreddus translates as "little calves", but these small ridged gnocchi look more like cowrie shells than they do bovines. Mallòreddus are similar to Sicilian cavatelli.
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder,
cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 lb. semihard pork salami about 1" in diameter,
cut into 1/4"-thick slices
3–4 lbs. very ripe puréed peeled plum or other tomatoes
or 1 28-oz. can tomato purée
3–4 lbs. very ripe crushed peeled plum or other tomatoes
or 1 28-oz.can crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
FOR THE PASTA:
1 lb. dried plain mallòreddus or
other small dried pasta, such
as cavatelli or trofie
1 cup freshly grated young pecorino
1. For the tomato sauce: Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until soft, 8–10 minutes. Add ground pork and pork shoulder and cook, stirring and breaking up ground meat with back of spoon, until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add salami, puréed and crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, 1 cup water, and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pot, and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until pork shoulder falls apart and sauce is thick, 2-2 1/2 hours. (Recipe should yeild about 9 cups) Adjust seasonings. Discard bay leaves.
2. For the pasta: Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water over high heat until tender, 12-15 minutes, then drain. Put one-third of the pasta into a large bowl, ladle about 1 cup of the tomato sauce over pasta and sprinkle with one-third of the cheese. Repeat the layering process, in that order, twice more. Save remaining sauce for music-paper bread lasagne or for another use.