Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Italian Casserole

Italian Casserole

I was invited to the then Chief of Greeting Card Operations, UNICEF, for an informal dinner. I knew his wife was Italian, but never expected that she would serve a traditional Italian food for a hungry bunch for hardcore Bengali guys n gals. Most of them were not aware of any non - Indian food except Chinese. But I was quite keen as I have just started picking up a bit of Italian cooking myself and could identify a few herbs and cheeses.. So when this casserole was there in front of us I was ready to dig in. And wow !! What a dish it was!! Simple cooking but bursting with flavours an the cheesy crust on the top is enough to make you drool. I left their house that night with the recipe tightly tucked in the corner of my clutch. And here it is for you all ...

Preparation Time : 10 minutes
Cooking Time      :  1 hour
Baking Time         :  8 - 10 minutes
Difficulty              :  Easy
Serves                  :   4

Ingredients :

  • 500 grams of Lean Ground Mutton (though traditionally beef is used) 
  • 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 400 grams whole peeled Tomatoes, chopped (blanch them and remove the skin)
  • 400 gram of Tomato paste or simply use 1 full can 
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried Parsley (you can get bottled ones at any food store)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt (you can get bottled ones at any food store)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 200 grams of Fettuccine or Spaghetti (the regular ones would also do)
  • 1 340 grams package of  processed sharp Cheddar Cheese singles


    Method :

    1) Heat a large Skillet over medium heat and add Olive oil.

    2) In the skillet, add ground meat. Brown it properly. Taking time to turn.

    3) Once all the meat is browned add Onions and stir in. Mix well and keep stirring for 2 to 3 minutes, till the meat and onions start leaving liquid.

    4) Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, parsley, garlic salt and pepper, and simmer over low heat. 

    5) Cover and cook till the meat is properly cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. This will take bout 45 minutes to an hour.

    6) In between preheat oven to 175 degrees Centigrade.

    7) At the same time, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

    8) Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

    9) In a casserole dish, combine pasta and meat mixture. Check seasoning and adjust, if required.

    10) Top the whole mixture with cheese slices and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

    11) Serve hot with loads of napkins...


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