About this recipe:This dish lets you use up all those 1/4 empty packets of pasta and uses them in a single dish. I always freeze stocks, and here you can use a gammon pressure cooked stock for a base flavour. The end result will keep you out of restaurants, the flavour and textures are fantastic. Even a pasta bake can taste like a gourmet dish. The key is a good stock and crunchy breadcrumb topping to add texture. This dish will be just as nice the next day microwaved.
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Method Prep:20min › Cook:1hr › Ready in:1hr20min
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the instructions on the packet, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Brown the mince in a frying pan over a medium heat and break up the clumps. Add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
To the mince add the contents of the tin of tomatoes, chilli, salt, sugar, tomato puree, ketchup, garlic, pepper and 5 quartered mushrooms. Slice the rest of the mushrooms thinly for later.
Cook the sauce down a little for about 45 minutes so the flavours can intensify. This also softens the meat. Don't let the sauce boil, have it on the edge of boiling.
Preheat the oven to 160 C / Gas 2/3.
Place the pasta into the base of a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake the pasta in the oven to dry it out for 5 to 8 minutes (don't let it go too dry). Remove the pasta from the oven and tip half of it out into a bowl. Add the meat mixture over the base layer of pasta then add another layer of pasta on top.
Bake in the oven to dry the top layer for five minutes. Then remove from the oven and spread all of the sliced mushrooms across the dish, the more the merrier! This is the game changer, it adds a new dimension to the dish with flavour and texture no one else will have thought of. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, followed by the breadcrumbs.
Return to bake in the oven. You are only crisping up the breadcrumbs so keep an eye on it and remove from the oven when the colour is how you like it. Allow to cool just a little then dig in.
To make the stock
If you need to make the stock, add 1.5L of water to a pressure cooker and add a 1kg smoked gammon joint, 1 halved onion, and 2 carrots. Pressure cook for 40 minutes until tender and no longer pink in the centre. Save the gammon for other dishes or sandwiches and keep the stock for dishes like this.
To make the breadcrumbs
I make my own breadcrumbs by blitzing a slice of bread, a slice of crust is best, in a blender or a Bullet (the best gadget in a kitchen).
This recipe is a real winter warming, comfort food master piece. Again it is a base for more complex dishes but, a good starting point with an uncomplicated flavour your family will be more than proud of you for producing. - 07 Feb 2015