The Cheesiest Baked Ziti (2 Ways)

Ah yes, lasagna's cousin... or well not really but this is a much easier, arguably cheesier, casserole style pasta dish that is full of well... lots of cheese, rich meaty tomato sauce, and of course ziti pasta. But we are taking it several steps further to take it far beyond what it normally is.


SUPPLIES USED:

Pasta Maker

Induction Cooktop


Serving Size: 4-6


INGREDIENTS:

Normal Version:

  • 1 pound (450g) Italian sausage

  • 1/2 pound (225g)ground beef

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 pound (450g) store-bought ziti (pasta shape)

  • 1 large sweet onion, finely diced

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 1/2 (24 oz )can crushed tomatoes

  • 14 oz (400g) mozzarella, low skim

  • 4oz (113g) Parmigiano

  • 15 oz (425g) tub full fat ricotta


Fancy Quattro formaggio Version:

  • 2 pounds (905g) boneless pork shoulder

  • 1/2 pound (225g) boneless beef short ribs

  • 1/4 pound (113g) prosciutto sliced

  • 4oz (113g) guanciale, fine diced

  • 2 shallots, fine diced

  • 2.5 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and blend into powder

  • 1.25 teaspoons red pepper flakes

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

  • 1 24 oz can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 6oz can tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup beef broth (we have)

  • Homemade/Nice shaped pasta

  • Picual olive oil

  • 3 oz (85g) Grana Padano

  • 3 oz (85g) pecorino romano

  • 12 oz (340g) scamorza

  • 15 oz tub full-fat ricotta

  • 3 tablespoons chiffonade basil

  • Additional grated Grana Padano for topping

  • Additional basil for topping


INSTRUCTIONS:

Normal Baked Ziti Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and spray a 9x13

  2. In a 5 quart dutch oven, add vegetable oil to coat the bottom and heat over medium heat.

  3. Add in the meat and sear for 2-3 minutes. Flip and sear on the other side until browned. Mash the meat using a potato masher.

  4. Let the meat cook over medium-high heat until the fat renders out and the meat is a bit crispy. Remove from the pot and place to the side.

  5. Add olive oil to the pot and add in the diced sweet onion. Season with salt and saute for 3 minutes. Add in finely chopped garlic and saute for 20 seconds.

  6. Add the meat back to the pot and mix to combine. Add in crushed tomatoes, stir together, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Season with sugar to cut the tomato acidity.

  7. Separately, fill a pot with water and season generously with salt. Once water is boiling add to the pasta. Cook just under al dente.

  8. Using a spider, transfer the pasta to the sauce and stir to combine.

  9. For the cheese mixture, grate all the cheeses and toss them together.

  10. In the 9x13 greased baking dish, add in half of the pasta & sauce evenly spreading out. Add full-fat ricotta on top followed by half of the cheese mixture.

  11. Add the other half of pasta and sauce, topped with the other half of ricotta, and the other half of the cheese mixture.

  12. Place the dish into the 375F oven for 35 minutes. Remove and let cool completely

  13. Finish with basil leaves on top.

Fancy Quattro Formaggio Method:

  1. For homemade pasta in a pasta maker (can use store-bought pasta), add all pasta ingredients to the pasta maker until pasta begins to form. Cut into penne-sized pieces. Dust with a little excess all-purpose flour and black on a baking sheet.

  2. For the sauce, add diced guanciale to a large saucepan with a little olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Saute, stirring occasionally, until guanciale has rendered almost all its fat and brown. Add in diced shallot, chopped garlic, fresh cracked black pepper, and salt to taste. Stir and let sweat, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes or until everything’s softened. Add fennel seed powder and red pepper flakes, stir to combine, and saute until fragrant. Add in tomato paste, stir to combine, and saute for 1-2 minutes before adding beef broth, mixing to combine, and removing from the pot.

  3. In that same pan, add in the ground meat and sear for 3 minutes. Flip and sear on the other side. Using a potato masher, mash the meat until a crumbles. Let it render out the fat, really letting it fry.

  4. Add the tomato paste sauce back into the pan along with a can of crushed tomatoes, stir to combine, add in roughly chopped rosemary, and season to taste with salt. Let simmer for 2-5 minutes.

  5. Boil the pasta until just al dente (45 seconds if homemade), add into the sauce and mix to combine.

  6. For the ricotta, fold chopped chiffonade basil in with ricotta until fully combined.

  7. In a medium bowl, add in grated scamorza, grana padano, and pecorino romano. Toss to combine.

  8. In the 9x13 greased baking dish, add in half of the pasta & sauce evenly spreading out. Add full-fat ricotta on top followed by half of the cheese mixture.

  9. Add the other half of pasta and sauce, topped with the other half of ricotta, and the other half of the cheese mixture.

  10. Place the dish into the 375F oven for 35 minutes. Remove and let cool completely

  11. Finish with chiffonade basil leaves on top.