- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage with fennel, homemade* or store-bought
- 1 pound 80% lean ground beef
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (1/3 palmful)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, lightly crushed in palm
- 1 cup beef or veal stock
- 2 cans Italian tomatoes (28-32 ounces each)
- 3-4 cups passata, tomato puree or tomato sauce
- A few leaves of basil, torn
- 1 pound ziti rigate or any short cut pasta with lines
- 2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, divided
- A few grates of nutmeg
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella or Fior di Latte, grated on large side of box grater (Tip: If the mozzarella is wet or packed in water, pat the mozzarella dry and wrap in a paper towel overnight to firm it up for grating)
- A small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
* To make your own sausage, you’ll need:
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage (6-7 leaves), very thinly sliced or chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
- About 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed (1/3 palmful)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
If making your own sausage, combine the meat with wine and seasonings and chill for several hours or overnight before using to allow the flavors to combine.
For the ziti, heat olive oil, two turns of the pan, in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and begin to brown and crumble, then add the ground meat and brown and crumble. Add the garlic and onion, red pepper, salt, pepper and oregano and cook to soften the onion, 5-6 minutes. Add the stock, tomatoes and passata or puree; break up the tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, add a few leaves of basil and simmer for 30 minutes.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the salt and undercook the pasta about 5-6 minutes, just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water.
Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
Combine the ricotta with half a cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano and season with nutmeg. Add the egg and combine. Add the pasta, starchy cooking water and half the sauce; stir. Transfer the pasta to a large casserole and top with the remaining sauce. Cover the casserole with mozzarella and the remaining Parmigiano cheese. Top with parsley and bake for 25-30 minutes, until brown and bubbly on top.