Nelly Writes — Recipes

Timpano di Pasta al Ragu, al Forno, (Baked Timbale of Pasta with Meat Sauce)

Ragu, di carne: (Tomato/meat sauce)

  • 5 15 oz of peeled tomatoes (puréed in a blender)
  • 1 small onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 small carrot, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf, whole
  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 1 chili pepper (Serrano), chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 lb bacon or ham, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • 3 tbsp olive oil - salt and pepper

Sauté in olive oil: minced onion, celery, carrot and the clove of garlic, plus bay leaf (and chili, if used) for 3 minutes (or until translucent), add ground beef and chopped bacon or ham and cook on high heat until browned, then season with red wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Turn heat down, add pureed peeled tomatoes and stir. Season with salt and pepper and let simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Crust:

  • 3 1/2 cups short grain rice
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 tsp parsley, minced

Cook rice in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente (about 15 minutes). Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Let cool down a little. Stir in 2 of the 3 eggs, minced parsley, and 1/3 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese. Cover with towel and set aside.

Assembly:

  • 1/2 cup Romano cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs, hardboiled, peeled, and cut into wedges (optional)
  • 1/4 lb of Mortadella (not Bologna) or ham, cut into slivers
  • 1 lb bucatini, fusilli bucati, or ziti
  • 2 or 3 Roma tomatoes, washed but not peeled
  • 2/3 cup small peas, sautéed in 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/4 cup mozzarella, partly diced and partly grated

Bring to the boil abundant water (seasoned with abundant salt) and cook pasta until just
al dente" (quite chewy - taste for doneness) (Do not put oil in the boiling water, just stir the noodles occasionally and keep an eye on them). Drain noodle, do not rinse them. Leave them a little wet, so they won't stick.

Dress noodles with ragu, sprinkle with Parmesan and Romano cheeses, diced mozzarella, mortadella slivers and egg wedges.

Line the bottom of a charlotte baking pan with straight sides or a Pyrex bowl (about 10"), previously buttered, with a circle of parchment paper, and butter that too. Sprinkle mold evenly with bread crumbs. Using your wet hands, completely line bowl with rice, forming a wall about 1" thick. Place on the bottom a few slices of tomatoes, sprinkle with some of the Parmesan cheese and diced mozzarella. Gently pack pasta into bowl, make a hole in the middle and place sautéed peas in it, then top with remaining rice, pressing it firmly in place. Beat remaining egg then brush over top of timbale.

Bake at 400 F on a lower rack for about 40 minutes. When done, with a long knife loosen crust, unmold on a serving dish, cut into slices and serve immediately with additional sauce, cheese and black pepper.

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"I come from a country where food is a central part of life. My passion and mission is to share my love of food and cooking with my students. Also to give them the inspiration and tools to create memorable meals and live meaningful experiences in the kitchen." - Nelly Capra