Monday, April 19, 2010

Beef and Cheese Manicotti with Chuck's Sauce

TWSF tried a new recipe this weekend. It was hard picking out a recipe, we recently have become obsessed with the food porn on, and want to try everything! We finally decided on Beef and Cheese Manicotti. Making manicotti didn't look too difficult, and we really haven't made an Italian dish in awhile. We already had a bottle of wine to pair it with, so that was that. We made manicotti.

This was a Giada recipe I found online. I love Giada, we even got to see her at DC's Metropolitan Cooking Show. She is just so cute! (Chucks note: she is tiny in real life) We made a few tweeks to the recipe and used Chuck's tomato sauce. Although we were only cooking for two, this probably could have fed 6 people. We made it with the intention of using leftovers for lunch this week, but this would also be a good dish to serve if you are having a dinner party.

Makes 14 manicottis, so serves approximately 6 people.

For the manicotti:


4 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 hot italian sausage (or 2 if they are small)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 (8-ounce package) manicotti
1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups marinara sauce
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

For the sauce:

1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic (or more if you really love garlic), minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (you can also use fresh tomatoes and dice them yourself)
2 15-ounce cans of Hunt's tomato sauce (plain, the sauce found by the canned vegetables not the the one's from the pasta aisle)
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions for the Chuck's Sauce:

1. Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the onions to the pan. Stir with a wooden spoon, and let cook until onions are translucent.

2. Add minced garlic to pot, and heat for 2-3 minutes.

3. Crush diced tomatoes with your hands and add to the pot. If you used canned diced tomatoes, add all the juice from the can as well.

4. Add Hunt's tomato sauce, salt and pepper (start with a little, then season to taste - we taste the sauce about 10 times before it's finished), oregano, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes.

5. Cover, and let sauce simmer on medium-low for approximately 25 minutes.
**It is really important to taste the sauce throughout the cooking process. Feel free to add more of any of the seasonings (we typically add more garlic, salt and pepper) to your liking! If they sauce gets too thick, add some of the water used to cook the pasta.

Directions for the Manicotti:

**Prepare the sauce before, or at least have it ready when you go to bake the manicotti. If you are cooking with two people, you can put on person in charge of the sauce, and one in charge of the manicotti. This is what we did, and it timed up perfectly starting at the same time.**

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion, ground beef, and sausage (squeeze the sausage out of its casing first). Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.

3. Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool. The oil prevents the manicotti from sticking to each other before they are transferred to the baking pan.

4. Combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix.

5. Once the meat mixture is cooled, stir it into the cheese mixture.

6. Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon enough of the sauce to cover the entire bottom of the prepared dish.

7. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. The easiest way to do this is by filling a ziploc bag with the cheese-meat mixture. Cut a small corner off the bag, and squeeze the mixture through the hole into the manicotti.

8. Arrange the stuffed manicotti in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.

9. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the stuffed pasta (we probably used more cheese than this recipe calls for).

10. Place chopped butter pieces over the dish.

11. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes.

12. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.


  1. Glad Google led me here, definitely making this tonight! Thanks!