Pasta Daddy is here and I want to talk to you about Stuffed Shells.
Growing up I had a friend who Mom was straight out of an Italy cookbook. I mean everything she made was awesome and 100% Italian. My all time favorite dish was her stuffed shells.
Stuffed shells can really be anything you want it to be. It can have meat, sauce, cheese or all three. However for me it has to be cheese. There is a science to this though. The cheese has to have marcapone in it. This crazy cheese is the secret to amazing shells.
My friend incidentally thought this was so rare he thought he would open his own restaurant one day and sell a butt-load of shells and be rich and famous. Instead he got into roofing over at constructoMAX.com. He is rich but not quite so famous.
Anyway this is what his Mom did. She would buy freshly made shells from the local Italian bakery. I know, if she was Italian then she should be making her own pasta right? Not when your cousin runs the bakery and gets you the pasta cheap. Plus he reasoning was the less time she is making pasta the more time she has to make the sauce and the filling.
She would set the pasta in the fridge while her sauce and cheese was cooking. Her sauce was the usual tomatoes and paste. She would let this simmer all day while adding spices throughout. The exact spices she used was never revealed. We were never allowed to hang out in the kitchen when she was cooking so I never even got a casual glance of what she put in there. Some Italians are nuts about their recipes.
The cheese would be mixed about an hour before stuffing into shells. She would add the mozzarella, parmesan and marcapone cheese. The blended together slowly with constant stirring to maintain consistency.
She would take out the shells while cold and stuff them. Her little trick was to take the cheese and put them in a bakers syringe and use that to inject each shell with the exact same amount of cheese. It was novel and less messy as well.
Then they were covered in sauce and baked. I tell you I have not a better stuffed shell since my childhood. It is sad this kind of stuff dies with the creators but I guess it leaves a certain amount of respect for the craft and uniqueness of it all.
Hey Pasta Daddy here with another topic of, you got it, pasta.
In my family the ongoing debate between different pastas was centered on rigatoni and penne. If you are unfamiliar with the difference, well shame on you! Just kidding.
Well Not really.
Look everyone should have at least a basic understanding of each style of pasta. It is like knowing your ABC’s or calculating basic math. You should just know some of it to show you aren’t a complete disaster.
But I will explain the difference for you since you obviously reading this and are too lazy to go look in up in your cookbook. Aha thought I was going to say Google eh? Well another thing I am obstinate about. Nothing works better than a cookbook. They took time and effort to print. Someone worked for hours perfecting a recipe. If you ask me if it took that much trouble then it is worth reading.
Rigatoni is known for its smooth texture and largest opening as a noodle, unless you went into shells which are much larger. One reason I always loved these noodles was that sauce and other little bits and pieces would get in the noodle and become part of each bite. Sometimes we would have beans in mixture and that was delicious as well.
Penne is smaller, almost a size of a pencil, and has diagonal cuts. It also features ridges along the noodle which you can actually taste in your mouth. Many of my family members like this over the rigatoni. They liked how it would go good with a red or white sauce and you can jam several noodles at once on a fork which it isn’t easy with rigatoni.
Which one do I like?
Rigatoni. Here’s why. Anyway to slow down my eating and let me enjoy my meal more it a good thing. Rigatoni does this for me.
There you have it. What say you?
You know every child starts with one pasta dish. Spaghetti right? It’s simple and easy to make. In fact I think I started to make it when I was only 8 years old. My Mom had a special way to do it.
She of course would use the noodles. But none of that whole wheat crap. Talk about ruining the pasta experience. My mothers secret though was the sauce. She didn’t even make the sauce. Yeah that’s right for all you Italian that scoff about that just remember one thing.
You mother probably cheated once in a while too.
My mother didn’t have the time to make the sauce from scratch. She worked every day just like my father and did a damn good job raising all four of us. So she would improvise and I gotta tell ya, it was good. Probably better than any home made sauce. Well most of them anyway.
She would start with the “base” which was a sauce from a jar. Any one would do. Didn’t really matter except she wouldn’t add to it what was already in there. So if it was a five cheese sauce then she wouldn’t add more cheese. Understand?
She would throw this in a skillet and let it hear up while having another skillet cooking the hamburger. Man I love hamburger almost as much as I like pasta and when you throw them together, well it is heavenly.
She season the meat with a little garlic salt and then throw it in the sauce. She would add olives, diced tomatoes and sometimes mushrooms. She would never saute the mushrooms first. She, and I, kinda like them fresh as opposed to softened. She would let this all simmer a bit and then head to the fridge for the leftover bottle of whatever red wine she used the week before.
This was the best part. I know I already drooled over the hamburger part and even got sacreligious. Can’t a guy have more than one favorite part? Of course so let it be.
The wine would really pull out all the flavors in the sauce and give it a bold taste. My mother was like that in her cooking. Taking bold steps and living a little in the kitchen. Life is short right? Gotta make some noise and enjoy it a little.
We of course would have the garlic bread on hand and enjoy a delicious meal as a family.
That’s my first post as Pasta Daddy. Thought I would start with an oldie. See you at the next dish.