MAKES 36 TO 40 SHELLS
SERVES 20 FOR BUFFET OR 8 — 10 AS PASTA COURSE
The original recipe for these large stuffed pasta shells comes from the kitchen of Signora Alba d'Aurora in Rome. I was a little skeptical scanning the ingredients — so much heavy cream and butter, but using low-fat milk for the besciamella and less cream yielded great results. One or two of these rich ragu-stuffed shells are very filling and I recommend serving them as part of a buffet. The shells are not cooked first but they are filled dry and then baked. The entire dish can be assembled a day ahead and refrigerated, leaving just the final steps of adding cream and milk before baking.
1 tablespoon Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 cup Tomato Basil Sauce
4 1/2 cups low-fat milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
One 12-ounce box large (2-inch) pasta shells
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the meat and cook, stirring, until browned. Raise the heat to high, stir in the wine, and let most of it evaporate. Lower the heat to medium, add the tomato sauce, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until thickened. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, scald the milk. Set aside.
In another large saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste, and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the hot milk, and cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the ragu until well blended. Transfer the ragu to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. This will make it easier to fill the shells.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Lightly butter a 14 x 8-inch baking dish. Using a spoon, fill the shells with the ragu mixture and place them close together in the baking dish.
In a bowl, combine the milk and heavy cream. Slowly pour evenly over the shells. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Serve immediately.
This recipe is featured in show 1705 — Stuffed Pasta.
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