Pasta, Old-Fashioned Style, to Cover: Pasta al'Antica Per Timpano

Note: You will need a 4-quart metal mixing bowl.

Total Time:
1 hr 5 min
Prep:
40 min
Cook:
25 min

Yield:
8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds rigatoni or ziti pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pasta Frolla, recipe follows
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted bread crumbs
  • Ragu Napoletano (Neapolitan Meat Sauce), recipe follows
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Besciamella, recipe follows
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto crudo, 1/4-inch dice
  • Several gratings nutmeg
  • Neapolitan Meatballs, recipe follows
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • Pasta Frolla:
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 6 ounces lard
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A little ice water
  • Ragu Napoletano (Neapolitan Meat Sauce):
  • 1/2 pound veal, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 pound beef chuck, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled San Marzano tomatoes and juices, passed through a food mill
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausages
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch hot chile flakes
  • Neapolitan Meatballs (Polpette alla Napoletana):
  • 3 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef, preferably chuck
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup pecorino, grated
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted for 2 minutes in a 400 degree oven
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • Basic Tomato Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
  • Salt, to taste
  • Besciamella Sauce:
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Directions

Place 6 quarts water in a spaghetti pot, bring to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Drop pasta in and cook 2 minutes less than the package instructions, remove and refresh under cold running water until cool, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from refreshing bath and toss with 2 tablespoons oil and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Roll out the pasta frolla to 1/4-inch thick. Butter the metal bowl and dust with the bread crumbs. Lay the pasta frolla in to completely line all of the bowl plus 1 1/2 inches over the edge and set aside.

Mix half of the cooked rigatoni with 2 1/2 cups Ragu Napoletano, 1/2 cup of Parmigiano and set aside. Mix the remaining half of the cooked rigatoni with half of the besciamella, 1/4 cup parmigiano, the prosciutto and a generous grating of nutmeg, and set aside.

Place the white mixed pasta into the mold and press down lightly. Sprinkle over with grated Parmigiano.

Place the meatballs (polpette) over the white pasta carefully in a consistent layer and press carefully down. Sprinkle with Parmigiano. Place the red pasta over the polpette and press down gently.

Fold the extra 1 1/2 inches of pasta frolla over the whole thing and press gently. Cover the open top with foil and place in oven to bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove from oven, remove foil, invert onto a large serving platter, and allow to rest 3 minutes. Carefully loosen the pasta around the base with a knife and knock with knuckles to remove from bowl. Serve immediately with remaining Parmigiano on the side. This will be cut like a cake to serve.

Pasta Frolla:

Make a well in the flour on a wooden work surface. Cut the lard into 1/4-inch pieces and place in the center of the well with the yolks, salt and a teaspoon of ice water. Mix well with the tips of your fingers to form a lumpy mass. Bring together as a dough and knead for 4 to 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic and set aside.

Ragu Napoletano (Neapolitan Meat Sauce):

In a large pasta pot or Dutch oven, combine the veal, beef, onion, and oil over high heat and cook until meat is seared on all sides and meat juices have evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until wine evaporates and meat is darker brown, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, sausages, salt, and chile flakes. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 21/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally and skimming fat as necessary.

Remove from heat and remove meat from ragu. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and allow to cool.

Yield: 4 cups, for 8 pasta servings

Neapolitan Meatballs (Polpette alla Napoletana):

In a shallow bowl, soak the bread cubes in enough water to cover. Remove the bread cubes and squeeze by hand to wring excess moisture.

In a large bowl, combine the bread, beef, eggs, garlic, pecorino, parsley, pine nuts, salt, and pepper, and mix by hand to incorporate bread into meat. With wet hands, form the mixture into 12 to 15 meatballs, each of a size somewhere between a tennis ball and a golf ball.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil until almost smoking. Add the meatballs, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan, and cook until deep golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to a simmer. Add all meatballs, cook for 10 minutes and allow to cool.

Basic Tomato Sauce:

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds one week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Yield: 4 cups

Besciamella Sauce:

In a medium saucepan, heat butter until melted. Add flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until light golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat milk in separate pan until just about to boil. Add milk to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth and bring to a boil. Cook 30 seconds and remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.


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