Friday, 2 December 2016

Cheesy Baked Tortellini

I've heard - and talked about - that blogging about recipes you don't LOVE is against all the blogging rules. 

In the past, I've tried recipes and cooked things I wasn't wild about and posted about them.  But at some point along the way, I decided that you didn't want to hear about stuff I hated or was ambivalent about.   You wanted to hear about the dishes that made me smile, the ones that warmed my ribs, the ones that made my tastebuds pop.

I think you can tell - I have LOVED everything I've posted about lately.  So, goal achieved!!

Before I start here.  There's something you need to know.  The original recipe did not meet the criteria above.

So I changed it.  And it was the perfect pasta casserole for a freezing winter afternoon.

It's fairly involved (it'll definitely need to be started early in the day), but when it's -30 degrees C outside, I figure we've all got a little extra time on our hands in the house. 

The reason this takes so long is because you have to start by making a meat sauce.  Which cooks for quite some time. Also, the recipe calls for veal, but I couldn't get veal so I just upped the beef and

Let's kick it into gear.

Heat oil in a large pot and add the meats.  Cook until browned, breaking up the chunks of meat with a wooden spoon.

Add the garlic.

Add the onion.

Cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the salt and pepper.

Then the basil.

Followed up by red wine.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes and the tomato purée.  Stir until combined.  Simmer on low for 2 - 3 hours.

The best part is that this recipe makes a REALLY BIG batch.  The tortellini recipe calls for 3 cups of sauce, so the rest can be portioned into freezer bags and saved for a rainy day.  Which is so great.

You can also plan this so that as the meat sauce is finishing, everything else is ready to go. Totally your call.

Next up is the béchamel sauce.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Then add the flour.  Whisk together and cook until the flour is golden brown.  Don't let it burn!

Then add the milk slowly, whisking constantly.  

Heat the mixture until it is simmering.  Cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly so it doesn't burn or cook to the bottom of the pot.

The mixture should thicken (you can see how it has on the sides of the pot in the picture below), then add in the provolone cheese and stir until it's melted.

Then add the Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.

Add in salt and pepper.  I usually go for about 1 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. 

Then stir in 3 cups of your prepared meat sauce.

Put the pasta in a really, really big bowl.  I used my 32 cup Tupperware bowl and it was perfect.

Pour the prepared sauce into the bowl with the tortellini and stir to combine.

Transfer the pasta and sauce into a 9 x 13 baking dish and top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Cook.  Wait.  Cook and wait.  Get hungry. 

I loved everything about this.  The sauce, the cheese, the pasta.  How it all came together and warmed the frozen cockles of my heart.

You could use any pasta you like.  I do recall seeing a bacon and cheese tortellini pasta and that would be probably wildly delightful.  I used a package of beef/cheese and a package of plain cheese. 

Serve with a Caesar salad and The Bread and that's a meal that is family friendly that will keep bellies full for days.  Or in my case, until dessert.

Xoxo - Heather

Meat Sauce

1/2 cup olive oil
8 ounces ground beef
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground veal
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tablespoons dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (28 ounce) can tomato purée (if you're lucky enough to find a can or two of tomato purée, send it my way!  But otherwise you can make a purée by putting 2 Tablespoons tomato paste into a measuring cup and adding enough water to make 1 cup and stir together.  Continue until you have 28 ounces - that's 3 1/2 cups)
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the beef, pork, and veal.  Cook until browned, breaking up the chunks of meat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 7 - 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Stir in the basil and salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the red wine, cook until almost evaporated, about 1 minute.
  5. Turn the heat to low and stir in the crushed tomatoes and the tomato purée.  Simmer with the lid slightly ajar to let steam escape.  Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Cheesy Baked Tortellini

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
3 pounds refrigerated tortellini
4 cups of meat sauce
1 cup (or more as desired) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the flour and whisk, cooking until the flour is browned.
  4. Gradually add the milk, whisking as it's incorporated.  Allow the milk mixture to heat to a simmer.  Cook at a simmer for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.  The mixture will thicken slightly.
  5. Stir in the provolone a little at a time until the cheese is melted.
  6. Stir in the Parmesan a little at a time until the cheese is melted.
  7. Add the salt and pepper.  Allow to cool to just above room temperature.
  8. Whisk in 3 cups of the meat sauce.
  9. Put the tortellini in a large bowl.  Pour in the three quarters of the prepared sauce and stir to coat. 
  10. Pour the remaining 1 cup of meat sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and spread evenly.
  11. Transfer the tortellini and sauce into a 9 x 13 baking dish and spread evenly into the dish.
  12. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the top of the pasta.
  13. Top with the shredded cheeses.
  14. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the aluminum foil and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbling.
  15. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Source:  Brown Eyed Baker

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