I don’t know about where you guys are, but there was a hint of fall in the air here this weekend. We turned off the air-conditioning and opened up all the windows, and I even had to don a long-sleeved shirt at the local fireman’s carnival on Friday night.
Needless to say, I was feeling something in the way of comfort food. And what better fits that bill than a big bowl of baked cheesy pasta? My girlfriend made this dish for me after we brought home our first son Andrew, over 5 years ago now. She drove all the way from Annapolis to come and make us this pasta, and share dinner with us. It quickly became a favorite in our home, and consequently my “go-to” baked pasta dish.
Ground beef and spicy Italian sausage is simmered in a rich tomato sauce, releasing all their meaty flavor into the sauce. Then at the end, a bit of heavy cream is stirred in…making it lighter in flavor, but yet richer at the same time. Layered with a bit of mozzarella cheese before baking, it’s becomes bubbly and crusty in the oven – everything that a baked pasta should be. Paired with a glass of red, a fresh green salad, and some crusty bread – it’s the perfect Sunday meal to gather your family around the table. We intend to enjoy every last day of summertime, but I’m definitely looking forward to that chill in the air being here to stay!
Rigatoni with Beef & Sausage Ragù
1 lb. rigatoni
2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. bulk sausage (Jimmy Dean Hot)
1/2 cup fresh parsley,chopped
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 (28 oz.) peeled and chopped tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 lb. whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup grated Parmesan or aged Asiago cheese
Preheat oven to 350.
Bring a large pot two-thirds full of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), about 15 minutes or according to the package instructions. Drain the rigatoni, place in a large bowl and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
In the same pot, heat the 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until no pink remains, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and drain any remaining fat. Brown the sausage in the same pan, draining fat that has rendered during browning. Return the beef to the pan with the sausage. Add the parsley, oregano and tomatoes and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the tomatoes break down and the flavors have melded, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the cream, raise the heat and return to a boil. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
Return the rigatoni to the pot with the sauce and toss to coat well.
Oil the bottom of a shallow 3-quart baking dish. Spread half of the pasta mixture in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella. Top with the remaining pasta, the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the top is crusty and golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for about 5 minutes and serve.
Source: adapted from Williams-Sonoma