Pasticcio di Maccheroni - Baked Pasta with Ricotta and Ham
Mario Batali's At-Home Comfort Food
Culinary superstar Mario Batali still likes to keep things simple in his own kitchen, using ingredients people can actually pronounce.
In "Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home" (Ecco), Batali presents delicious and easy-to-make dishes that are sure to please everyone.
He served up some of his favorite recipes from the collection for "Good Morning America" – chicken with "cooked wine," baked pasta with ricotta and ham, and Italian trifle.
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat until smoking. Add the ham cubes and brown for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook until the vegetables are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook until the meat is just about falling apart, about 50 minutes. Transfer the meat to a large bowl. Keep the sauce warm.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.
Cook the ziti in the boiling water for 1 minutes less than the package directions, until still very al dente. While the pasta is cooking, place the ricotta in a small bowl and stir in a ladle of the pasta cooking water to "melt" it.
Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the meat. Add the ricotta and caciotta and stir to combine.
Grease a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with extra-virgin olive oil. Place a ladleful of sauce in the bottom of the casserole, followed by a layer of the pasta and meat mixture. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the parmigiano-reggiano over, then repeat with another layer of sauce, then pasta and meat, and parmigiano. Continue until all ingredients are used up.
Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbling and heated through. Serve in warmed pasta bowls.
Recipe copyright 2005, Mario Batali from his cookbook, "Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home"