Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mezzi Occhi di Lupo al forno con sugo di carne e formaggi

Baked wolf's eye pasta with meat sauce and Italian cheese!

     This is a simple baked pasta entree that is very popular at home and in Italian American restaurants.  Unlike the classic entree baked ziti, this recipe has no ricotta three cheese mixture or salsa di pomodoro.  A rich thick meat sauce that is commonly used to make lasagna takes the place of tomato sauce and turns this baked pasta into a hearty meal.

     Sugo di Carne Recipe:  
     This recipe makes enough for 3 medium pasta portions or 3 to 4 lasagna portions!  Some people like big portions of Italian food, so this recipe may only be enough for 2 large portions when served with pasta!
     Heat a pot over medium low heat.
     Add 5 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 4 cloves of  finely chopped garlic.
     Add 1/3 cup of very finely minced onion.
     Add 1/3 cup of very finely minced carrot.
     Add 1/3 cup of very finely minced celery.   
     Stir and saute, till the fine soffritto vegetables become tender, but not browned at all.
     Add 6 ounces of ground veal.
     Add 10 ounces of lean ground lean beef.
     Stir the meat with a wire whisk occasionally as it cooks, so any clumps of ground meat are broken up into tiny pieces.   
     Note:  Clumps of cooked ground meat are not desirable in this sauce!  Sugo di carne is meant to coat the pasta with flavor and cling to the pasta.  If you want big chunks of ground meat, then that is what meatballs are all about!
     Saute the ground meat, till it is fully cooked and lightly browned.  (Do not allow the meat to overly brown.  That is how a sugo di carne becomes greasy and dark in color!)
     Add just enough imported Italian canned crushed plum tomatoes to almost cover the meat.  (The proportion of ground meat should be slightly higher than the proportion of tomato!)
     Add 1/2 cup of imported Italian canned tomato puree or 3 pureed peeled and seeded fresh overripe plum tomatoes.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 3 pinches of basil.
     Add 3 pinches of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of whole fennel seed.  (Do not add too much fennel seed to a sugo di carne, or that will be the only flavor that can be tasted!)
     Add 1/2 cup of dry red wine.
     Add 1/2 cup of light beef broth.
     Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     When the sauce starts to gently boil, reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Stir the sauce once every 4 or 5 minutes.
     Simmer the sauce for 30 to 35 minutes. 
     Add 3 pinches of finely chopped curly parsley or Italian parsley.
     Note:  Do not simmer this sauce all day!  Meat sauces that are cooked for too much time will start to lose their crisp flavor and bright color.  A meat sauce that is simmered too long will become acidic and dark in color!
     After the sugo di carne finishes simmering, the sauce should be a thick consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  If the sauce becomes too thick, add a small splash of chicken stock.

     Mezzi Occhi di Lupo al forno con sugo di carne e formaggi:
     Cook one portion of Italian wolf's eye pasta in boiling water, till it becomes al dente.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Place the pasta in a mixing bowl.
     Add just enough sugo di carne to coat the pasta with flavor.
     Mound the sauced pasta in a casserole dish.
     Sprinkle a mixture of grated fontal, mozzarella, parmesan and romano cheeese over the pasta.
     Bake in a 350 degree oven, till the pasta and sauce become hot and till the cheese melts.  
     Note:  The cheese should only have a few light golden brown highlights.  Overly browned cheese becomes very bitter tasting.  The object is to only melt fine Italian cheese!
     Place the casserole on a serving dish.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of finely minced Italian parsley over the pasta.
     Serve with garlic bread and fine Italian red wine!

     Simple, rich, hearty and delizioso!  Ciao Baby!  ...  Shawna   

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