Baked Pasta Casserole, Palermo-Style
This extravagant dish is part of the culinary tradition of Palermo. For the Palermitani pasta is not a food to be enjoyed occasionally, it is a staple food that is a direct line to eating well to live. Anelletti are a typical Sicilian pasta form. Originally the timballo was an elaborate concoction first introduced by the Arab emirs in the 9th century. The ingredients varied all over the island but it became a dish that was totable for the Sicilians who took it on picnics. The classic ingredients are pasta, meat and vegetables. Many versions exist; some use eggplant instead of peas or zucchini. More elaborate concoctions also include chunks of salame, hard boiled eggs and primosale cheese. This is a dish to feed the masses, at least 12 so it is a good one for a party or a buffet dinner and can be made a day ahead and reheated.
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 stalks celery
- 4 sprigs parsley
- 2 tablespoons Filippo Berioolive oil
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups peas
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup grated Pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter cut into bits
- Cream Sauce
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk
- Grinding black pepper Grinding nutmeg
- 1 pound anelletti (small ring shaped pasta)
- Oil an 11 1/ 2 x 2 inch deep casserole dish or Dutch oven and coat with 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs.
- Finely mince together the onion, carrot, celery and parsley.
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and cook the minced vegetables until mixture softens. Add the meats and brown them. Raise the heat to high and add the wine. Let most evaporate off. Add the salt, pepper, bay leaf, cloves, and tomato paste.
- Cook uncovered over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the peas. Set aside.
- Meanwhile make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a medium size saucepan and stir in the flour to make a paste. Slowly add the milk and whisk until smooth. Add pepper and nutmeg.
- Combine the ragù and cream sauce and set aside. Keep 1 cup separate to spoon on top of the casserole.
- Cook the anelletti until very al dente, about 7 minutes. Do not over cook as they will cook in the oven again.
- Drain and combine the anelletti with the ragù and cream sauce mixture. Transfer to the casserole dish and spread the remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with the cheese and dot with butter. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until the top is nicely browned, about 35 minutes.
This recipe was featured on Season 23 - Episode 2310.