Friday, June 20, 2008

baked rigatoni with bolognese meat sauce

Since today on Good Food Friday we are celebrating(????) the Summer Solstice, or the longest day of the year, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you the longest cooking-est dinner I make -- Baked Rigatoni with Bolognese Meat Sauce.
This pasta dish is really excellent, but it really does take a while to cook (but that's why it's so good, right?) So when you have a few spare hours to spend tending intermittently to your meat sauce, whip up a yummy batch of:

Cooks as Long as the Summer Solstice Rigatoni with Meat Sauce

Bolognese Meat Sauce Ingredients:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp butter
½ c chopped onion
2/3 c chopped celery
3/4 c chopped carrot
3/4 lb ground beef chuck
1 c whole milk
1 can diced stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Put oil, butter, and chopped onion in pan, and turn the heat on medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble meat with a fork, stir well, and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color. Add milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until bubbled away completely. Add a dash of nutmeg and stir. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook, uncovered, for three hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, continue the cooking, adding ½ cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

1 package rigatoni

Medium-Thick Bechamel Sauce:
4 c milk
8 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook the rigatoni. Drain when exceptionally firm, a shade less cooked than al dente. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the meat sauce, bechamel, and 4 Tbsp grated Parmesan to the pasta. Toss thoroughly to coat the pasta well and distribute the sauces uniformly. Lightly smear the baking dish with butter. Put in the entire contents of the bowl. Leveling it with a spatula. Top with 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan and dot with butter. Put the dish on the uppermost rack of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, until a little bit of a crust forms on top. After taking it out of the oven, allow the rigatoni to settle for a few minutes before bringing to the table.

One word of warning: If you are going to put the time and effort into making this truly excellent dinner, please do it only for people who will enjoy and appreciate it. Do not, I repeat, do not make it for someone like PB&J's oldest brother -- who *gag* smothered it with ketchup before he ate it.

It took almost superhuman effort to keep me from doing this to him:
And instead, I regret to inform you, I was forced to immediately, and irrevocably, disowned him for perpetuity.

rigatoni picture originally uploaded by

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