Sunday, 10 October 2010

Pasta Bake

On Friday evening we had our son Jake and his girlfriend Sophie over for dinner. I miss Jake and a huge hole has been left in my life since he moved out but I refuse to be one of those mothers that try and hold him back for my own reasons. I didn’t count on my son moving out so soon and even more so starting a family of his own but I can only admire and be so proud of the man he is becoming. We are all so excited about the arrival of the baby which could be any day now and I can’t wait to meet my grandson! Whenever Jake comes over I always make the food he loves and enjoys, so when I saw this Pasta Bake that Jan at A Glug of Oil blogged about it seemed the perfect choice for Friday nights dinner. We love pasta and this recipe is very similar to one I make which always goes down well. This pasta bake was full of flavour, really delicious and we all thoroughly enjoyed it! This recipe is a keeper, thanks Jan for sharing this wonderful pasta bake!

Pasta Bake (adapted)

Serves 8

500g gigli pasta (or pasta of choice)
500g minced beef
500g minced pork
extra virgin olive oil - a few glugs for frying
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
3 fat cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 x 400g tin of good quality Italian chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato purée (paste in the USA)
350ml of red wine
a good pinch of dried oregano
a pinch of nutmeg
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the white sauce:
750ml of whole milk
100g of unsalted butter
55g plain flour
100ml double cream
plus a good handful of grated extra mature cheddar cheese and Parmesan to sprinkle over the top

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F or Gas 4

You will need a large frying pan, a large saucepan and a 2.5 litre oven proof dish. And also a balloon whisk and a wooden spoon.

In a large frying pan heat a about a tablespoon oil over a medium heat. Fry gently the onion and carrot for about 10 minutes, moving it around from time to time. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Then set this aside while you cook the meat.

Add another glug of oil to the frying pan, turn the heat up and fry the beef and pork to brown it, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Keep it moving so it browns evenly. When it's browned nicely, now you can put the onion mixture back into the frying pan with the meat. Give it all a good stir. Add the tomato purée and cook for one minute then tip in the tin of tomatoes including the juice, oregano and red wine. Add a little salt and pepper to season. Still stirring, allow it to come up to simmering point. Once everything is simmering away nicely, leave it to cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes. Be sure to give it a stir now and then so you know it's not going too dry. By now you should be well on the way to having a nice thick, reduced concentrated sauce, that has very little liquid left in it. If you haven't - no worries just leave it for another 10 minutes or whatever it takes - you might have the heat a bit too low. Have a taste to check the seasoning, when you're happy with the thickness of the sauce, put the pan to one side and make the white sauce.

Put the butter and flour into a large thick-based saucepan and put it over a medium heat whilst stirring with a wooden spoon. Let the flour and butter cook for a minute or so (or the sauce will be lumpy). Now, remove from the heat and using a balloon whisk, add the milk in a little at a time, whisking all the time. Once all the milk is in, put the saucepan over a gentle heat and whisk continuously until the sauce comes to simmering point and thickens nicely. Add some salt and pepper to season and have a taste to make sure it's okay. Don't leave the salt out or the sauce will have no taste. Then, with the heat as low as possible, continue to cook the sauce for about 10 minutes. When it's nice and thick, remove from the heat and stir in the cream, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Once that's done you can turn off the heat and cook your pasta - following the instructions on the packet. Go for very slightly undercooked 'al dente' because the pasta will continue to cook when it goes in the oven.

Drain the pasta and reheat the white sauce, stirring all the time. Tip the pasta into your meat sauce and gently give it a stir to coat it well - you don't want the pasta to break up.

Put half of the mixture into your oven proof dish (2.5 litre in size) and spoon over a little of the white sauce. Don't fuss about the evenness of it, just pour over randomly. Add the rest of the pasta and meat mixture. Now pour the rest of the white sauce over to cover the pasta as best you can.

Sprinkle the top with a good amount of grated cheddar and Parmesan.


cocoa and coconut said...

Gosh I love pasta bake! And making a big batch is always great to share with friends/family, and eating it as leftovers for the delicious days to come..

Gloria Baker said...

OMG María This pasta look really yummy! gloria

Nic's Notebook said...

Oh this looks great, I could make it and substitute Quorn mince couldn't I? I always get stuck for new veggie recipes! Mmmm... cheesy pasta things are one of my favs! Fingers crossed for baby's arrival :)

Chele said...

We love pasta bake in this house, alas it comes from a jar ... I know! Hanging my head in shame. I might try this sauce and use it with our usual mushroom and chorizo mix ;0)

Lucie said...

ooo Maria, I could eat a huge plate of this right now. It looks a fab recipe. Glad it went down well with the family. Hugs xx

Beth (jamandcream) said...

you cant beat a good pasta bake - this one looks really good. You are far too young to be a granny Maria!!

MaryBeth said...

We love pasta and this dish is one I could really dig my fork into...

Brownieville Girl said...

Congratulations on the imminent Grandmotherhood.

Pasta bake looks delicious.

Sasha said...

I love pasta like this. Cheesy, meaty, warm, carb-y. Yum!

busygran said...

This looks good and it's making me hungry! Bookmarking this!

Rhyleysgranny said...

Maria you look far to young to be a Granny. Congratulations you will love every moment of Grannyhood. Thanks for the inspiration for supper tonightx

J e l e n a said...

Beautiful dish for the cold weather that is coming. Love the addition of red vine!

The Girl said...

My goodness you kept that quiet! Or have I just not been paying attention?!

Well fingers crossed for it all, it's baby madness around me at the moment with a new niece/nephew due in a couple of weeks and my boss' baby due at around the same time.

I absolutely love pasta bake. Not even just love it. I could eat it until it came out of my ears. I could eat that whole dish and then want more.

Unknown said...

I make my ragu using pork and beef, but make it slightly differently. Once the pork and beef have browned, I drain the fat off, add the meat to my softened onion, garlic and carrot, then I add just enough milk to cover. Let the ingredients soak up the milk, then add just enough red wine to cover and let the meat soak it up. Finally I add the tomatoes, puree and oregano. I then leave it simmering for a time.

I can't believe you're gonna be gran. How exciting xxx

Maria♥ said...

Thanks for the lovely comments.

I am too young to be a granny but I'm excited and look forward to being a "yummy granny" now!


Abitofafoodie said...

Goodness Maria - I can't believe that you are going to be a Granny. Far too young, surely! This pasta bake looks seriously tasty - I think the addition of pork mince to a ragu makes for a much more flavoursome sauce. Delicious I'm sure.

Cats_cupcakes said...

This looks lovely :) where did you get your dish from. Its so pretty!