Pasta simmered with ground beef, peppers, and onions in a garlicky tomato sauce that's spiked with Worcestershire sauce and smothered in cheese: This is a New England classic that ought to be eaten everywhere comfort and ease are appreciated. This version is as cheesy as it gets with two types of cheese on top of and also folded into the casserole.
Why this recipe works:
- By soaking the pasta in hot water instead of boiling it separately, you save yourself the need to bring a second pot of water to a boil.
- Folding in cubes of mozzarella cheese into the pasta ensures gooey pockets of cheese with each bite.
- Two types of cheese—low-moisture mozzarella and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano—bring great texture and flavor to the finished casserole.
- Yield:Serves 6 to 10
- Active time: 25 minutes
- Total time:40 minutes
- 1 pound elbow macaroni or other tubular pasta, such as cavatappi
- Kosher salt
- 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 large green pepper, finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, plus more for serving
- 1 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound low moisture whole milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 ounces roughly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Place macaroni in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Season generously with salt. Let rest, stirring twice during the first ten minutes, while you prepare the other ingredients.
Using a hand blender directly in the tomato jar or a regular countertop blender, process tomatoes until mostly smooth. Set aside.
Heat oil and butter in a 5 quart straight-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, swirling, until better is mostly melted. Add onions and peppers, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and half of parsley, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Clear a space in the center of the pan and add meat. Increase heat to high. Cook, breaking it up first with a wooden spoon, then with a potato masher, until broken into small pieces. Continue cooking until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add pureed tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
Drain noodles in a large colander set in the sink. Add to pot with beef. Add Worcestershire sauce and chicken stock and stir, folding noodles through the sauce until noodles and sauce are well-integrated. Cover and cook at a hard simmer until noodles are mostly cooked, about half of cook-time indicated on box.
Remove lid and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add half of cubed mozzarella and stir to incorporate rapidly (do not overstir or the mixture will stretch and stick to your spoon). Spread remaining mozzarella over surface of dish. Sprinkle half of Parmesan over dish. Cover and cook over the lowest possible heat for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest with cover on for 5 minutes.
Uncover, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and herbs and serve immediately, passing extra Worcestershire sauce at the table.