Pasta Al forno
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
This dish reminds me of friendship - I was introduced to it by my friend who would bring leftovers to work. She was very kind to share, if I had something this delicious I am not sure I would, which is why I am giving you the recipe so I don't have to. This is comfort food at its very best, rich flavoural ragu topped with a velvety bechemel and melted cheese!
I would served it with a fresh green garden salad or freeze it and heat it up during the week.
Time: 4 hours
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
2 strips of bacon
1 yellow onion, diced
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 sprigs of rosemary
500g of beef mince
250 g of pork mince (or sausages with casings removed)
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 cup of red wine
1/2 cup of milk
Salt and pepper
500g penne pasta
100g of salted butter
100g of all purpose flour
500 ml of milk
Salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
We are going to start by rendering the fat from the bacon, do this dice the bacon and add it to a cold pot or pan, then turn the heat to medium. This will allow the fat to melt and the bacon to crisp up.
Remove the bacon and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, let the oil heat up before add the mince in a thin layer. Let the mince cook for 3-5 minutes without stirring you want to form a golden brown crusty layer, then turn over and repeat, once brown remove from the heat and place in a seperate bowl. You may have to do this batches or else all the water will come our the mince and it will steam instead of frying. Repeat with the pork mince.
Add the onion, carrots and celery, let cook until the vegetables become soft (±10 minutes), then add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper
Add the browned beef, pork and bacon back to the pot and stirr. Top with the tin of tomatoes, puree and wine and mix. Lower the heat so that the pot is gently simmering and let cook for 2-3 hours. You want the sauce to deepen in colour and taste.
When the 3 hours are nearly up, cook your pasta according to the packet instructions but shave off about 2 minutes of the cooking time so that it can finish cooking in the sauce.
Drain the pasta and reserve some pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce and let it absorb the sauce as it cooks. Turn off the heat.
During the final 30 mintes of your meat sauce start on the bechemel.
Over a medium heat melt the butter, once all the butter has melted stir in the flour and let cook for 5 minutes (you will know its ready when it smells like a pie crust and doesn't smell like raw flour)
Lower the heat and slowly whisk in the milk, keep whisking until the sauce is smooth and starts to thicken and add a the nutmeg and season with salt, pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180 C
In a deep oven dish, or smaller ones that can be frozen, place a layer of the pasta and sauce then stop it with half the bechemel. Sprinkle a layer of grated cheese (the amount of cheese is completely up to you).
Repeat with another layer of pasta, bechemel and cheese and place in the oven to cook for 30 - 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted and is a golden brown.