Thursday, January 3

Extra-Crusty Baked Rigatoni with Beef Ragù

The month of January finds me hibernating. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over and here at Porter Central we kick it into low gear. The days are short and the cold nights are long, just the perfect time to rest, relax and re-group for the upcoming months. 

Other than catching up on paperwork and e-mails, I sit down every January and organize all of our important dates. The Spring of 2013 is expected to be a busy one. Curling up with my stacks of magazines, I enjoy sitting in front of the fire as I decide what projects to tackle this year. Soon enough I will be in the middle of my DEEP clean and restoring some order to our home, but for now I am SO thankful I have the chance to hibernate.

Extra-Crusty Baked Rigatoni with Beef Ragù
Few meals are as comforting as baked pasta. The perfect hibernation food. This recipe is by far my favorite for baked pasta....I have been preparing this meal for my family for what seems like forever. Any pasta would do but I like using large, ridged rigatoni. It gives you the pleasure of lasagna with less work.
SERVES 6 to 8
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  • 1 lb. rigatoni
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 1 large can (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 350ºF.
  • Bring a large pot two-thirds full of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni, stir well and cook until al dente, about 15 minutes or according to the package instructions. Drain the rigatoni, place in a large bowl and toss with a small amount of butter 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. Drain off any fat. 
  • 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.

Take some time to sit back this month and hibernate. Feeding your mind, soul and body will help you hit the ground running for Spring. Fix yourself a plate of baked rigatoni and curl up in front of the fire with your sweetie....'ll be glad ya did!


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