Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Let's Cook: Baked Penne with Bolognese and Bechamel Sauce

I'd love to call this the 3 B's -- Baked Penne, Bolognese and Bechamel sauce.

Disclaimer: The recipes that you are about to read and follow are all prepared, cooked and eaten by myself and my family. I did not go to a culinary class. My cooking skills are 100% genetic. I rarely measure my ingredients, but they are pretty damned close to the exact recipes I have read in cookbooks and internet sites. I use ingredients that are available to me. There is no guarantee that your cooking will come out tasting like what I made. If you make something here that you are not completely satisfied, feel free to post here and rant your complains, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

This is the pasta dish that I prepared on Mika's birthday. I was planning for a lasagna, but I just remembered that we still have 500g of penne pasta given to us as Noche Buena package last December. So I decided that I will use this instead. With no further adieu, below are the ingredients and the cooking directions.


Pasta: 1 pouch 500g penne pasta (I used Doña ElenaDona Elena Al Dente Pasta brand)

Bolognese Sauce (red meaty sauce):

The Herbs (1 teaspoon each) --all are from McCormick

  • fresh parsely
  • dried oregano
  • dried basil
  • Italian seasoning
The Cheeses:
  • 1 pack Mozarella cheese (12 slices) -- sorry folks, I forgot the brand name but it cost Php139.00 at SM Grocery.
  • 1 pack Che-vital Quickmelt cheese (24 slices) -- It cost at Php115.00. I only used 5 slices
Bechamel Sauce (white sauce):
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup fresh milk
  • all-purpose flour (to thicken the sauce)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano and dried basil
  • salt and white pepper to taste
Alright, let's get started. Of course, you need to cook the pasta first according to it's cooking packet instructions. Just make sure that it's al dente (not exactly soft, but not tough either). Remember that you will have to bake it later so the cooking process will continue to make the pasta firmer. When the pasta is cooked, rinse with cold water, then set aside.

For the bolognese sauce (pronounced as bo-lo-naise. Sounds like mayonaise), cook the ground beef and pork in olive oil until it turns brown. Add the onions, garlic, fresh chopped parsely, Del Monte tomato sauce, and 1 can of Doña Elena® diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then season with dried oregano, dried basil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Turn to low heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes to bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes and pull out the flavors of the herbs into the meat.

In another pot, melt butter and add the fresh milk, constantly stirring to prevent the milk from curdling. Add the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste. I also added dried oregano and dried basil to mimic the taste of the bolognese sauce but with the creamier and cheesier version this time. Don't forget to add the flour to thicken the sauce.

While all of this is happening, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. I don't have an oven, so I used my ever-reliable turbo broiler. With the turbo, you can pre-heat to 250 degrees in 10 minutes time.

Now we are ready to assemble our pasta in red and white sauces. In a baking dish, or you can also use the disposable baking trays, start by putting the white sauce first in order to prevent the noodles from sticking into the pan. Put in the noodles distribute them evenly so that each corner or space of the baking dish is covered. Spread the bolognese sauce evenly then follow it with the bechamel. Place 5-6 mozarella slices and 5-6 Quickmelt cheese slices. Repeat the same process until you have fully covered the baking dish and finished with the red and white sauces. For this recipe, I was only able to make 2 layers.

Cover the whole dish with aluminum foil and bake the penne for 30-40 minutes (same time in all ovens). Take out the baked penne from the oven and let it stand for 10 minute before slicing. I know! It's one hell of a torture to smell the delicious cheesy goodness of the dish, however patience will prevail so that the whole thing sticks together when you are slicing it.

If you tried this recipe, please share your experience in this post. I would love to hear from you.

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