Pasta Paccheri di Capsicum

I recently visited my local and favorite butcher shoppe, Lakewood Meats, whom you can follow on Facebook and order online several amazing imported Italian specialty pastas and much more, and fell in love with Paccheri, a large smooth tube pasta, about two inches in length.  I immediately decided on a beefy bolognese, but, when the time came to prepare it, I had decided on a beefy tomato-based sauce with peppers, instead. The layers of ingredients, spices and herbs and their insanely delightful aromas turned me into a cartoon character floating in the kitchen, mesmerized.  Do not take my word for it, please make it for yourself and Tell Me you do not react the same way!  Let's get to it then!

1 28-ounce can tomato puree (I use Cento)
1 14.5-ounce can of diced fire roasted Italian tomatoes
4 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 large red and yellow (or whatever your choices might be) bell peppers, ribbed, seeded and cubed
2 large Fresno chiles, ribbed and seeded and sliced into rings
4 - 6 leaves fresh basil, rolled and chiffonade (sliced into ribbons) 
3 small sprigs fresh oregano, leaves pulled backwards from the stem and finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground chuck or Italian sausage
Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, shaved and/or grated
1 package of Parecchi pasta
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons dry Italian seasoning
1/4 cup wine or a splash of red wine vinegar

To start, crush and peel the garlic and add it to a large high-sided skillet or pot with the evoo (extra virgin olive oil) over lowest heat.  To season the evoo, you must add the garlic to room temperature oil and slowly turn up the heat very gradually, little-by-little. (I could not stress that enough, as you do not want the garlic to turn the oil rancid by being heated too quickly). Once the garlic begins to sizzle upon bringing the oil up to near medium heat, add the Fresno chile rings. They will saute after ten minutes, remove the chile rings and set them aside.

The Fresno chiles will also season the oil.  Once the chile rings have begun to blacken, remove them and set them on paper towels. 

Next, add the onion and add a little salt to them to help them sweat out their sugars.  Toss with a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula.  While the onions saute, finely chop the garlic cloves and add them back to the sauce pan.  By now, the onions should start becoming a bit translucent.  Move the aromatics off to the sides of the pan and add the two pounds of ground beef.  Add a bit of salt and pepper and crumble over medium-high heat.  Add one of the tablespoons of dry Italian seasoning and incorporate well with the onions and garlic.  Next, add the can of diced fire roasted Italian tomatoes and a quarter of the can full of water.  Stir it all together well and bring to a boil.  Add the wine or red wine vinegar (or both) and stir well for about five minutes until the wine has begun reducing. Add the cubed peppers and saute four more minutes.  Add the large can of tomato puree and stir in completely.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Add half of the fresh herbs (basil and oregano) and the last half of the dry Italian seasoning.  Again, incorporate well.  Reduce the heat to low to simmer for one hour, partly covered (mostly covered).  

After one hour, remove the lid, add the remaining half of the fresh herbs and continue to simmer for thirty minutes more to thicken the sauce.  Meanwhile, bring 6 - 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, salt liberally, as it is the only chance you have to season the pasta, and these are large pasta, ergo the larger amount of water than usual, and add the pasta to the seasoned, roiling boil.  Cook the past to just about al dente, about 16 - 18 minutes. This is large pasta, once again, so the cooking time is longer than the norm.  It is very difficult to taste test these, as they are so big, so trust me on the cooking time. 

Now, this next part is up to you.  If you wish to toss the pasta with a cup of starchy pasta water with the sauce, as is tradition, by all means, enjoy.  I did something a bit different, and I enjoyed it.  I grated a cup of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, added a layer to the bottom of a large bowl and topped it with a little of the sauce.  I added some of the Paccheri over the sauce, added a little more cheese, ladled a big heaping amount of the aromatic beefy sauce atop the pasta and topped it with some of the Fresno chile rings and shaved parmigiano-reggiano and a floret of fresh basil as flavorful garnishment. 

I do hope you will try this recipe out.  It is not nearly as complicated as it sounds and the flavors truly reflect the comforts of home, particularly in winter or on a beautiful spring day. It feeds four people easily, everyone will be satisfied and, whether you make my Capsicun (peppers) sauce or a traditional Bolognese, your guests or family will be enthralled by the comforty aromas wafting from your kitchen. 

As always, THANK YOU for your time and consideration and, Patience with me!  I have a new techno contraption to write with and I am excited to be back to writing and cooking with ease. Thank You, my gentle readers and friends!  Please feel free to drop by my Twitter and say Hello or my blog's Facebook account.   Twitter:  @grnmn1   and Facebook:  In-House Cook.   Thank You!!!   Martin

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