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Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Stuffed Manicotti and Marinara Sauce
Beef & Cheese Manicotti adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis
*warning: this takes a while. The good news is you can do it as a make-ahead recipe or make & freeze individual-sized portions for lunches or whatever.
1 lb ground beef 1 medium onion, finely chopped 15 oz ricotta cheese 2 cups shredded mozarella cheese 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 6-8 oz chevre (goats cheese) - (optional) 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley 3-4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed salt pepper olive oil 12-14 large pieces manicotti (one package) 2 cups homemade marinara sauce. (no exceptions!) 1 tablespoon butter
1) Make a double batch of the marinara sauce (see below), and save what you won't need in the freezer. This is best done at least a day ahead of time.
2) Put several quarts of water on to boil with a bit of salt. Dice your onion. Heat a 12-inch skillet on medium-high heat and add the onion and ground beef and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. While it cooks, get a big mixing bowl and add your minced/pressed garlic, half the mozarella, half the parmesan, all the goat's cheese if using, the parsley, and a bit of salt and pepper. Mix it up. Turn your oven on to 350.
3) When the onion is translucent and all the beef is browned, remove the meat from heat and let cool a bit, then add to to the cheese mixture and mix well. When your water is boiling, add half the manicotti and cook for 6 minutes, no more, then fish them out with a slotted spoon and put them on a plate to cool a bit, then add the other half of the manicotti and reset your timer for 6 minutes.
4) In a 9 x 13 baking dish, drizzle 1-2 Tbs of olive oil. Add ~3/4 cup of the marinara sauce to the bottom and set aside. Fill the first manicotti with the meat & cheese mix. If you're very talented you might do this while keeping the manicotti intact; I find it's a lot easier to open up a seam, fill it up, and then close it again and set it in the baking dish seam-side down. When your timer beeps take the other manicotti out and set aside to cool. When they can be handled, fill them with the rest of your filling and add them to the dish.
5) Spoon the rest of the marinara sauce on top of the manicotti. Add the rest of the mozarella & parmesan cheese to the top and dot with bits of butter. If you're preparing this ahead of time, throw it in the fridge (for no more than a day).
6) Bake the manicotti uncovered for about 30-35 minutes or until all the cheese is melted and starting to brown you can't stand to wait any longer. Let cool just long enough so it doesn't burn your mouth, and devour.
Marinara Sauce from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis
* I recommend doubling this, in which case you will need a largish stockpot to fit it all
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 2 small onions, finely chopped 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 celery stalks, finely chopped 2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste 2 32-oz cans crushed tomatoes 2 dried bay leaves
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent; about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and salt and pepper and saute until all vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.