Gourmet Baked Ziti

Gourmet Baked Ziti

 

Ingredients:

  • 1lb Whole Wheat Penne Cooked 2 Minutes Shy of Al dente
  • 1lb to 1 & 1/2lbs Ground Pork (or whatever combo of barnyard animals you prefer)
  • 1 Tspn Ground Allspice
  • 1 Med Onion Chopped
  • 8 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1 Cup Pinot Noir Red Wine
  • 2 Cans (48oz each) of San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 2 Tblsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Tblsp Butter
  • 3 Tblsp Wheat Flour
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock (Room Temperature)
  • 1 Cups Half & Half (Room Temperature)
  • 4 Cups Shredded Mozzarella or Scamorza (smoked mozzarella)
  • 1 ½ Cups Grated Parmesano Reggiano

Directions:

Preheat oven on 450° and move the rack to the center of the oven. Rub butter or EVOO a 13 by 9 baking dish (don’t skip this step).

Cook the whole-wheat penne within 2 minutes of being al dente, drain and rinse with 2 cups of cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside while you’re working on the sauces.

In a deep skillet over med-high heat, brown ground pork in 2tbls of EVOO for about 5 minutes, then break it up in the pan with a wood spoon. Don’t break it up too soon or the meat will steam instead of browning. Season the raw side with the allspice, salt and pepper, stir and cook for 5 more minutes then add all of the chopped onions and 6 cloves of chopped garlic (reserve 2 for the béchamel) and sweat them out for about 3 minutes stirring frequently.

Deglaze the pan with the Pinot Noir wine, reduce by half for about 5 minutes and add the San Marzano Tomatoes and incorporate them thoroughly into the meat (breaking up the tomatoes if you bought the whole variety, see note below). Bring the sauce up to a bubble, then add the Cinnamon and reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer while preparing the béchamel.

A NOTE ON SAN MARZANO TOMATOES: There are many imposters out there! Don't be tricked! The label may clear say San Marzano...but, the trick is to read the ingredients (if you can find that teeny tiny print). Seriously.. They name the brands San Marzano something, something. But true San Marzano's ingredients labels will say San Marzano Tomatoes from San Marzano sul Sarno, near Naples, Italy. What makes them so special? They're grown using a specific process, but the clincher is the soil. It's loaded with volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius, enriching the dark soil & the toms!

BECHAMEL SAUCE:

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the 2 reserved cloves of chopped garlic and gently cook for 3 minutes. (Don’t like so much garlic? Leave it out! I’ll never know.) Once the garlic has sweated out & into the butter, with whisk in hand, add the wheat flour, a little salt and pepper and whisk occasionally for 3 minutes to cook deepen the flavor of the flour. Then, while whisking, add the room temperature chicken stock and half & half and let the béchamel thicken for 2 or more minutes until it coats the back of a spoon.

TIME FOR ASSEMBLY AND BAKING:

Stir the reserved pasta into the meat sauce with 1 cup of mozzarella or scamorza & ½ cup of parmigiano reggiano. Pour the cheesed up meat sauce in the greased 13 by 9 baking dish, level it out and pour the béchamel over the top. Spread the remaining mozzarella or scamora and parmigiano reggiano evenly, over the béchamel sauce.

Place in the center of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and nicely browned. Serve with crusty bread and a nice green salad.

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One comment

  1. Sounds delicious! Thanks for the tomato info too. I wouldn’t have known .

    Liked by 1 person

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