Playing With My Food ~
A journal about food, thought, travel, and life; by Chef & Raconteur Chaz French.

Rigatoni & Cheese in Meat Sauce

Rigatoni, cheese, tomato and meat, with a hint of truffle oil meld together to make a fantastic meal you won’t soon forget.

Rigatoni & Cheese in Meat Sauce


The Sauce:

1/2 medium large Vidalia onion (about 1/2 a cup) diced
5 ounces chopped spinach (1/2 a frozen package defrosted and drained)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 28 ounce can peeled tomatoes in puree (regular or thick) broken up a bit.
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black truffle oil (or white)
1/3 pound diced bacon (about 6 slices)
1 1/4 pounds ground beef (85% lean)

The Cheeses
4 ounces grated Pecorino Romano
4 ounces grated Ricotta Insalata (semi-firm Ricotta that comes in a block like romano or parm)
16 ounces part skim Ricotta
4 ounces fresh Mozzarella sliced thin

The Pasta
1 box (one pound) Rigatoni (I prefer DeCecco)

Pasta Pot
Baking Dish (9×13)
baking sheet larger than pan
Large frying pan
Parchment paper (not wax)


Preheat oven to 350F

Put a pot of well salted water on to boil for the pasta.

In a large frying pan saute your onions & spinach with the butter and olive oil and half of the salt, after a few minutes add the bacon and
lower the heat to medium. When some of the fat starts to render off the bacon you can add the tomato paste, stir for a few minutes and deglaze with the wine. Add the ground beef, the rest of the salt, the black pepper and red pepper flakes then add the peeled tomatoes. Cook over medium heat until the beef is done, about 10 minutes. At the end add the truffle oil, remove from heat, stir well and set aside.

Cook the pasta in the now boiling water for 7 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Drain the pasta and pour into the baking dish. add all of the soft (wet) ricotta to the pasta and stir gently. Add a layer of sauce over the pasta, spread the grated Romano and semi-firm Ricotta over the sauce, add the last of the sauce, just covering the cheeses.

Cover baking dish with parchment paper, then with foil (to keep the aluminum from reacting with the tomato sauce), place on baking sheet and bake in oven for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes remove foil & parchment, cover top of dish with the sliced mozzarella and broil until melted and bubbly.

Easily serves 8 as a main dish. Serve with salad and bread to complete the meal.