Pasta 'ncasciàta (pasta o' fùrnu)

6
3 hours

Ingredients

For the ragù

  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tropea onion, finely chopped
  • 300g of pork mince
  • 300g of beef mince
  • 600g of passata
  • fine sea salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed

For the meatballs

  • 200g of stale bread, white
  • 250g of pork mince
  • 250g of beef mince
  • 100g of pecorino, grated
  • 2 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs
  • fine sea salt, as needed
  • freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • extra virgin olive oil, for frying

For the aubergines

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into 0.5cm slices, patted dry with kitchen paper

To assemble the dish

  • 500g of rigatoni pasta
  • 200g of provola cheese, diced
  • 150g of soppressata, thinly sliced
  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and quartered (optional)
  • pecorino, as needed

Method

1
Start with the ragù. In a large saucepan, fry the onion in oil over a gentle heat until softened. Increase the heat and add the pork and beef and brown evenly, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan. Once browned, add the passata, cover, and cook over the gentlest, lowest heat for about 2 hours. Check often and stir if needed
2
White the ragù is bubbling away, prepare the meatballs. Soak the bread in a little water to soften it. Leave it there for 10 minutes, then drain, squeeze out any excess liquid and crumble in a large bowl. Add pork and beef, pecorino, parsley, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Stir to combine until everything is evenly mixed. Shape the meatballs using your hands – try and make them all the same size, about that of a walnut
3
Fill three-quarters of a frying pan with olive oil and set over a medium heat. When the oil is hot (170–180°C if you have a cooking thermometer), add the meatballs (you might want to work in batches). Fry until cooked through, for 4–5 minutes. Drain with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels
4
Use the same oil (check that the temperature is still around 180°C) to cook the aubergine slices. Fry in batches until tender and golden in colour, then drain and set aside
5
When the ragù is almost ready, cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, then add the rigatoni and cook until just al dente. Drain and toss with a few spoonfuls of the ragù (reserve most of it for later)
6
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
7
In a square or rectangular baking dish, arrange the aubergine slices so as to cover the bottom and edges of the dish. Add a few spoonfuls of the ragù, then a layer of pasta. Top the pasta with some diced provola, slices of soppressata and a few egg slices (if using). Cover with some more ragù, then dust with grated pecorino. Repeat in layers until you get to the top of the dish, finishing with ragù and pecorino
8
Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the dish looks bubbly on the top and edges. Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving