I don’t know about yous guys that read my blog, but your boy Vinnie B. loves a good baked ziti.
This was originally Nonna B’s recipe that she came up with in 1930s Brooklyn after escaping the rise of Fascism in Italy. Let’s keep it real — pasta al dente is better than pasta il duce.
While the recipe has changed over the past century the core ingredient remains a family’s love, but since this is the Vinnie B. version you know its about to get extra cheesy up in here.
Only the Freshest Ingredients
Whether its in the kitchen or in life you only get out what you put in. That means to start our baked ziti we’re going to need some legit ingredients.
Since Italian markets have all been pushed out of business by corporate America we can’t go down to Sal’s on the corner anymore. That means we got say “Yo, Alexa!” and order our food from Whole Paycheck Foods.
Here in MIA we have free two hour Prime Now delivery from Whole Foods on orders over $35. And since no one in the history of the freaking planet has ever spent less than $35 looks like we ain’t paying for delivery.
For one tray of ziti we’re going to need the following.
16 oz organic ziti
15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
16 oz shredded mozarella cheese
15 oz tomato sauce
1 lb 85/15 ground beef
Let’s Get Cooking
Fist thing we gotta do is get out our biggest pot. Big enough to fit a large adult male’s head in — don’t ask. Really. Don’t. Ask.
Fill it with four quarts of water. After cleaning out the hair (stop asking!). Add a punch of salt. Bring to a boil.
While you’re waiting for the water to boil, which I understand passes for fun in certain parts of the country, get out a large skillet. Slather it in olive oil and bring it to a high heat. Warning: hot oil smokes so turn on the fan above your stove.
Throw in a couple of cloves of minced garlic into the hot oil if you have it on hand, but it isn’t essential to the essence of the dish. Sorry. Just always wanted to say that.
In your hands take that big clump of ground beef and begin pulling it apart and then toss into the skillet. Listen to the singe and begin stirring frantically to keep the beef from getting burnt.
Once all the pink is out the beef and you’re seeing a lot of brown bring that heat down and let it simmer.
Next you need to tell the Amazon Echo you ordered the ingredients from Whole Foods to start playing Dean Martin songs.
Then you pour yourself a nice glass of red wine and have some vino with your Dean-O.
By the time “That’s Amore” and “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” are finished your water should have come to a rapid boil. So throw in that box of pasta and start stirring to keep it from sticking to the sides of the pot.
Now for the tricky part. You gotta get the excess oil and grease out of the skillet. Not only is it unhealthy, but it also will make the baked ziti not taste as good.
Add your can of sauce to the meat and let everything simmer while you wait for the ziti to get al dente. Generally about ten minutes.
Take a stick of butter and rub it all over your baking dish to get it nice and lathered like when you go out to the beach.
Throw the ziti into a colander when its done and rinse it with cold water to get the starch off and bring it back down to room temperature.
Combine the cooked ziti and your meat sauce into the baking dish. Congratulations. You have now made ziti with meat sauce, but since this is baked ziti we’ve gotta keep going.
Take that delicioso ricotta cheese and add it to your ziti and meat sauce. Give it a nice mix. But don’t give in to temptation and eat it. You still ain’t done.
Lastly you take that bag of mozzarella and dump it on top. All. Of. It. This is the key to a good baked ziti a la Vinnie. B.
Place it in an oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and then manga Italiana.