Monday, August 06, 2007

Rigatoni al Fantastico!

This is a recipe from one of Nigella Lawson’s books but, for the life of me, I can’t remember which one. The original recipe is for 16 people – just a little more than I need for a family dinner – so I’ve reduced it somewhat. The directions are mostly Nigella’s own, although I have left out some of the overly descriptively twee bit. I do love Nigella but sometime her twee-ness gets to me a bit.

I made this for dinner during the week and, while it is kind of time consuming and appears to be a very long recipe, it was totally worth the effort. This was seriously delicious!

Rigatoni al Forno

250g rigatoni
50g Parmesan, freshly grated

For the Meat Sauce
1 onion
1 carrot
25g streaky bacon or pancetta
1 stick celery
1 glove garlic
50g butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g minced beef
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
1 cup water, swilled in the tomato can

For the Béchamel
60g butter
50g plain flour
500ml milk
Salt or stock granules to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg

Roughly chop the peeled onions, peeled carrots, the bacon or pancetta and the celery. Peel the garlic clove and put it, along with the chopped veg and bacon into a food processor and finely chop. Heat the butter and oil in a large pan and fry your bacony vegetable mush gently for 10 minutes or until soft.
Add the minced beef and fork it through until it browns in the pan as much as possible. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, puree, red wine, bay and tomatoey water. Stir well and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, partially cover and let cook gently for 2 hours.
To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan then add the flour and stir and cook together to make a roux. Take off the heat briefly, and whisk in the milk – just using a hand whisk – then put back on the heat and, stirring all the time, let the sauce come to boil and bubble away for a few minutes to get rid of the floury taste. Season with salt and pepper (or you could use some crumbled stock cube or bouillon concentrate). Turn down the heat slightly and cook until slightly thickened, though this needs to be liquid-y enough to coat the pasta easily. After turning off the heat stir some freshly grated nutmeg (I used nutmeg from a jar) through the sauce.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C and put the water on for the pasta. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente.
Drain the pasta and, while still a little wet, put it back into the saucepan and pour the white sauce over, mixing well. Add the meat sauce and mix again, until the pasta is covered in both, thought don’t worry about combining the lot smoothly. Tip the sauced pasta into a casserole dish, cover the top with grated parmesan (I added some grated cheddar too) and cook for 40 minutes or until the top is crispy and golden.

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