Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Baked Ziti last night

Ran by Jimmy's last night after work, craving ingredients for something with pasta.  As I've said before, for all things Italian, that's the place to go in Dallas.  I picked up the makings for baked ziti. 

I didn't follow a recipe, but I'll tell ya' what I used and how I made it:

Baked Ziti
1 bag (1 pound) ziti pasta
1/4 lb. pancetta, (about 6 thin slices), cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 gloves garlic, minced
1 lb. of 93/7 lean ground beef
8-10 small porcini mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1/2 cup assorted olives, pitted, drained, and chopped (I use a greek or italian blend)
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers (about 1/2 a tiny jar or can - use all of it if you like)
2 24oz. cans of crushed tomatoes (I use Cento from Jimmy's - they're from Italy)
1/2 cup fat free milk (optional)
1/2 cup fat free mozz
1/4 cup regular sharp cheddar cheese
a lil' butter
S&P to taste

Get your pasta going while we begin the rest.  Once the water comes up to a boil, add salt, and a little EVOO.  (A little trick to keep the pasta from sticking together, even after you've drained it.)  Cook until al dente...you want a bit of bite to it, b/c it will continue cooking in the oven.  Oh, speaking of, now's a good time to heat your oven to 350.

Put a small pat of butter and about 1 tablespoon of EVOO in a large saute pan, set on medium-high heat.  Toss in your pancetta and cook until the pieces start to become crisp.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Now say, "Mmmm, pork fat, yum!"  There really isn't that much residual fat in the pan, so don't freak out. 

Now throw your diced onion in the SAME PAN - don't wipe out the pan, that's un-American!  Cook the onions until they're translucent, and a litte brown on the edges.  Throw in your garlic, and whirl around for about a minute.  You'll smell it when it becomes fragrant, and that's all the direct heat it needs.  Now add your ground beef to the pan, and start breaking up into tiny crumbles.  When most of the pink is gone, toss in your rosemary, and the mushrooms, and saute for about 3 minutes.  Push the mixture over to one side of the pan, and toss in your chopped olives and roasted red peppers.  Mix those around together to get them heated thru, then mix everything together.  S&P here to your liking. 

Now it's time for your 2 cans of crushed tomatoes.  Add those in, and stir to combine.  Now is when I add in the 1/2 cup of ff milk.  It's not neccesarily for flavor here, we're just using it to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.  You don't have to do it.  Now, if you were going for a romanesco sauce, you'd want to use something like CREAM here, then we're talking about a completely diff sauce.  But I'm trying to be good w/ this recipe.  :)

Let all of this loveliness cook on medium/low heat for about 15-20 minutes...you really want the flavors to dance around and play w/ each other, and give that tomato sauce time to mellow out.  You want a slight bubbling in the pan, and give it a stir every couple of minutes.

Now, throw your cooked pasta in and combine.  Spray a large lasagna pan w/ cooking spray, and dump the mixture in.  Sprinkle the top w/ your pancetta bits, and the cheese, and pop into the oven for about 15-20 minutes.  All your looking for here is the cheese to melt and get a little brown, the edges will be bubbling a bit, and I love it when the ziti's that are poking out on top get crunchy - mmm, good stuff! 

No comments:

Post a Comment