This recipe is adapted from the Baked Ziti with Sausage recipe in Saveur: The New Comfort Food – Home Cooking from Around the World.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 500 grams Bratwurst or other sausage, removed from casings (~ about 1 lb)
- 1 medium carrot, minced
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1 medium parsley root, minced
- 1 small piece of celery root (or 1 celery rib), minced
- 500 grams ground beef (~ about 1 lb)
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 400 grams (~14 oz) canned whole cherry tomatoes
- 500 grams (~18 oz) pureed tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, minced
- Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 tablespoons flour
- 625 grams (2 1/2 cups) milk
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 700 grams maccheroni (~ about 1 1/2 pounds maccaroni)
- About 3 balls of mozzarella cheese, coarsely chopped (or 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Make the meat sauce: Add the oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. When warmed, add the sausage and break up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When fully cooked, remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside. Add the onion, carrots, parsley root, and celery to the pot and cook, stirring, until veggies are slightly browned (around 15 minutes). Add the ground beef and stir, breaking it up with the wooden spoon. When the beef is fully cooked, add the wine. Once the wine has evaporated (about 5 minutes), stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and canned tomatoes, lower the heat to medium-low, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Stir occasionally until the liquid has almost evaporated (about 1 hour). Add the sausage and any accumulated fat/juices in the bowl. And the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Make the bechamel sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and whisk constantly for about 2 minutes, until it begins to bubble slightly. While whisking, add the milk in a thin, steady stream. Bring the sauce to a simmer and whisk until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 10-15 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the maccheroni and cook until al dente (check the manufacturers instructions, should be about 6 minutes). Drain the pasta and add to the meat sauce. Stir gently until maccheroni is fully mixed in, but try not to break the pasta. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with butter. Add half of the pasta mixture. Pour half of the bechamel over top and use a rubber spatula to spread it evenly over the pasta. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the mozzarella over this. Add the rest of the maccheroni mixture, top with the rest of the bechamel sauce, spreading it out again over the whole surface. Top with the rest of the mozzarella and the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake about 25 minutes until golden and bubbly. Check on it towards the end of the cooking time to make sure the top doesn’t burn. Let the dish stand 10 minutes to cool before serving.
Makes about 12 servings