Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stuffed Shells

This is another recipe that I have been making for more than 20 years now. Never wrote it down, it’s all crammed up there in my noggin. I tried to approximate amounts while I was making this, so I am taking notes from my sauce and cheese spattered paper to re-type this.

Lisa’ Stuffed Shells
1 pound ground pork
1 ½ pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ pounds of whole milk ricotta (I use about ¾ of a 2 lb container)
2 large eggs
2 cups shredded mozzarella
8 ounces whole mozzarella
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 box jumbo shells
Your favorite sauce (I usually make my own but you can use jarred and it still tastes delicious)

In a large pan cook the onions in a little olive oil until they are tender. Add the minced garlic. Let cook for 1 minute, add ground pork and beef, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Cook until browned. Drain any grease out of the pan. Set aside.

Boil your jumbo shells for about 8 minutes. You want them really al dente. While the shells are cooking, start on the ricotta mixture.

In a large bowl combine ¾ of a 2 pound container of whole milk ricotta. Add 2 eggs and mix well. Add 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella, ½ cup of grated parmesan, ½ cup parsley. I also added a good bit of Mrs. Dash at this point. Mix until combined. Add in the meat mixture and mix it up again.

Drain the shells and immediately run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Pour some sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 pan, just enough to cover the bottom so the shells won’t stick. I make a bit of an assembly line to put it all together. I put the shells to my left, the pan in the middle and meat/cheese filling on the right. Fill each shell with about 2 teaspoons of the mixture. They should be full enough that the ends of the shell don’t meet. Like this:

Line them up in the pan:

Pretty huh? I buy the 16oz square cube of mozzarella. I cut about half of it up into thin slices and layer it all over the top, and then I sprinkle on about another cup of shredded mozzarella. Can’t have enough cheese you know. Top it all off with enough sauce to cover up all the shells and bake covered with aluminum foil in a 350 degree oven for about an hour, or until the shells are nice and bubbly. I usually take the foil off during the last 15 minutes cause I like the ends to get all brown and crunchy. Let stand for 10 minutes before you dig in.

I usually serve this with a nice big salad and some crusty bread. They are great heated up the next day too!
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