Plain Ole Hamburger Pasta Made Special

June 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm Leave a comment

Yes, I know I haven’t written since the end of April–which prompted an “oh my gosh!” response when I first realized how long it had been. However, moving and beginning a new house have been taking significant amounts of both time and creative energy, not to mention matching (no, trying to match) activity levels with a 3-year-old most days. Yikes!

Anyway, here’s a process for making “really good” pasta. It was on my menu plan to do some sort of hamburger macaroni dish tonight, which didn’t sound particularly inspired. But…I pulled an old issue of Fine Cooking off the shelf, one that had an article on baked pasta, and there was the inspiration.

Basically, it’s about the “process,” not an exact recipe. I still browned my hamburger (pastured beef) with onions in a little coconut oil, then made a fairly thin bechamel sauce and added asparagus, a few dried morel mushrooms, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of Anaheim chili flakes, just a little cheddar cheese and grated parmesan.

I cooked penne pasta for two minutes less than the box suggested, drained it but didn’t rinse it. Then I combined the sauce and pasta in a shallow baking pan (mine’s oval shaped, about 8″x12″ or so).   I sprinkled on bread crumbs (easy to make in the Vita-Mix or a food processor), another grinding of parmesan and into a preheated 425F oven for about 17-18 minutes.

Again, it’s the process and principles that are important:
1) undercook the pasta; don’t rinse it
2) make a thin white sauce
3) use breadcrumbs for a crispy top
4) go lightly on the cheese–just add a little flavor
5) season each element as you go; salt and pepper on top won’t permeate the whole dish
6) bake in a hot oven for a short time to keep the pasta from “gluing” itself together

We really liked it!

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Entry filed under: Recipes. Tags: , , , .

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