Saturday, September 26, 2020

Rigatoni Pie


There are basically three different ways to achieve the flavors in this dish. The most common form, of which we are all familiar, is called Lasagna. A layered pasta dish with meat, cheese and sauce that I find laborious. Not my favorite way to achieve this flavor profile.

Next up I give you Baked Rigatoni. Again...pasta, meat, cheese and sauce. This is a favorite of mine as you just toss all of the cooked ingredients in a bowl. Then mix thoroughly, slap it in a baking dish and heaven emerges from the oven 45 minutes later. It will score 100 points for taste and about 70 points for aesthetics. Matters to some, but I'll take taste over aesthetics any day of the week (just look at my friends).

Last up is Rigatoni Pie. Exact same flavor profile...pasta, meat, cheese and sauce. So you may expect similar scores to the two aforementioned dishes....but just you wait. This is the dish that would be prepared if you put Prince, Lady Gaga, Liberace and James Brown in the kitchen at the same time. It's flashy, unique and your guests will be blinded by the beauty of the much so that they will give you 100 points for aesthetics and a 183 points for taste.


1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound hot Italian sausage

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices 

One 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1 pound rigatoni 

1 pound part-skim mozzarella, grated 

2/3 cup grated Parmesan


    1. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil  in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once it begins to sizzle, cook the  sausage and shallot, stirring occasionally, until there is no pink left in the sausage and the shallot is soft, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes, then add the tomatoes with their juices and 1/2 cup water. Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cream, bring back to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes, then puree in a blender until smooth.
    2. Preheat the oven to 375ยบ. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with 1 tablespoon oil.
    3. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until slightly less than al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.
    4. Stand the rigatoni on their ends in the prepared springform pan until it is completely filled (you might have leftover pasta). Put the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch any drips. Pour the sauce over the pasta, spreading it with the back of a spoon (you might have leftover sauce). Sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan.
    5. Cover the pan with foil, doming it slightly to avoid touching the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until the top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes more. Let the pasta cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the sides of the pan, sprinkle with basil, cut into wedges and serve.

    Wine pairing: Chianti Classico

    Saturday, September 12, 2020

    Garlic Rice

    The vast majority of recipes in my blog were created by other people. When someone's recipe catches my eye, I make it and if it's good, it goes in my blog. This dish happens to be one of the few original recipes in my blog. I've been making this dish for over 20 years. My boys were hooked on it growing up.

    My wife and mother-in-law put this dish in their all-time favorites column.  My old friend Todd Marella grabbed the recipe when I first blogged about it, and now it's his daughter's favorite. It's simple to make. It's amazingly versatile as it pairs perfectly with everything from the most delicate chicken dish to roasted beef.

    So why am I writing about it again? I've slightly modified the recipe over I discovered a new ingredient that that makes this a grand slam every time you step up to the plate. My good people, welcome if you will, the Babe Ruth of butter...SHAMY Garlic Butter.

    This butter is an absolute game changer. I swear I could just pull up to a table, fork in hand and eat it right out of the tub. The ingredient list is awesome. Fresh cream butter, parmesan cheese, sea salt and basil. I buy it on, where two, ten-ounce tubs will set you back $20. Besides using it in my garlic rice, I also use it to make garlic bread, butter burgers...heck, I use it on just about anything that calls for butter. And fortunately, just about everything I cook calls for butter. And garlic.

    2 tablespoons roasted garlic olive oil (I get mine on Amazon)
    2 cups of sushi rice
    1 tablespoon dried, minced garlic
    3 tablespoons of Shamy Garlic Butter
    2-1/2 cups of water

    1. Place all ingredients in  a medium sauce pan (with a lid).
    2. Turn stovetop burner to high. Bring pan to a boil.
    3. When water boils, reduce heat to low (simmer), cover and let it cook for 15 minutes.
    4. After the 15 minutes are up, turn heat off but let pan sit on warm burner for another 15 minutes.
    5. Uncover pan and stir to fluff rice. Serve.

    Wine pairing: Merlot

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956

    Saturday, September 5, 2020

    Grilled Flank Steak with Kimchi-Scallion Sauce

    September means it's almost time to turn the culinary page. It's the time of year where grilled delights and summer salads will feel the the sharp elbows of soups, stews, pasta and roasted meats. Fall has always been my favorite season and I truly enjoy the transition to comfort foods and big roaring fires.

    But given that it is only the 5th of September, I'm not ready to give up the ghost quite yet. My oven will have to wait while I wrench out every bit of goodness from my favorite cooking device, the Weber charcoal grill. This Cook's Illustrated recipe is a favorite of mine, especially when accompanied by a steaming hot, double serving of basmati rice.


    For the Steak
    1 flank steak, 1-1/2 to 2 pounds
    1/2 cup soy sauce

    For the Sauce
    6 scallions. sliced thin
    1/2 cup finely chopped kimchi
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    4 teaspoons soy sauce
    4 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
    1/4 teaspoon sugar


    1. Place steak in a zip lock bag and add soy sauce. Seal bag and marinate in the fridge for 4 hours.
    2. Combine all sauce ingredients and let sauce sit for at least 20 minutes at room temperature.
    3. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat.
    4. Remove steak from marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
    5. Grill steak for 4 minutes per side (for medium rare).
    6. Remove steak from grill and tent with foil. Rest the steak for 5 minutes.
    7. Slice steak across the grain and then plate the steak slices. Pour kimchi-scallion sauce over the steak and serve.

    Wine pairing: Zinfandel

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956