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  • Mostaccioli

    Moving a year ago had the unintended consequence of losing all my cooking gear (long story). Now, finally a year later I've gotten around to rebuying all the pots, pans, gadgets, etc., and getting back into the kitchen (for the curious, I've been microwaving and eating out a lot). The loss wasn't entirely 100% a bad thing, since I used the opportunity to upgrade to better implements (ie: Calphalon instead of T-Fal, etc.).

    One of my relaunch dishes was my old standby mostaccioli (pronounced by everyone I know as "muskacholy"). I can (sometimes literally) make it in my sleep, and it was one of the only recipes my mom taught me, so it was a good re-entry into my comfort zone.

    A pretty generic recipe, but I like it a lot:

    • 1 box (1 lb) mostaccioli rigate (I prefer Barilla, it's the same thing as penne rigate. The non-rigate or smooth version also works, but I prefer the ridged variety)
    • 2 small cans of Contadina Tomato Paste (I guess 1 large can would also work. I've tried other brands and always come back to Contadina)
    • 1 pound ground beef (not too lean, 90% is fine)
    • 2 bell peppers (or 1 huge one, as I had this time)
    • 2 yellow onions (or again 1 huge one, as I also had this time)
    • 2 teaspoons italian seasoning
    • 1 teaspoon dry basil (I want to try this with fresh, possibly next time)
    • 6 cloves garlic (probably even more, but I feed some garlic-averse folks)
    • Salt
    • Fresh ground pepper

    Brown the ground beef in a big pot (I use an 8 quart stock pot). You don't have to completly cook it, just get it fully rendered and stir a lot. It will continue to cook as we proceed.

    Roughly drain the beef (if you meticulously drain it, you'll lose some flavor)

    Add in the peppers and onions, both coarsely chopped, then salt and pepper before you mix them in. Cook while stirring until onions start to clear.

    Add garlic (pressed or grated, I've done both. Not minced or chopped) and the rest of the spices. Cook for another 2-3 minutes while stirring (lots of stirring here, that's half the fun).

    Add the tomato paste and cook another couple of minutes (while stirring, of course).

    Add 10 cups of water and bring to a boil (stir, stir, etc.)

    Add the entire box of pasta. I know, everyone usually cooks it separately and drains it, I don't. Give a good stir to make sure none of the pasta is sticking together.

    When it comes back up to a boil, reduce the heat, cover with the lid slightly off so that steam can escape, and simmer until not at all soupy (stir every few minutes, you'll wish you used a big wooden spoon towards the end).

    I serve with garlic toast and grated parmesan cheese.

    This tastes even better reheated the next day.
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