Here is my KILLER baked rigatoni for those home cooks who dont want to be bothered with boiling the dry pasta first:
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage
1 or 2 Green Peppers
1 or 2 Yellow or White Onions
1 tbs (or more to taste) Minced Garlic
1 26oz jar Newmans Own Sockarooni Sauce
1 28oz can Diced Tomatoes
2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp (or more to taste) Ground Cayenne Pepper
1 16oz pkg Dry Rigatoni (I prefer Barilla)
4-8oz (depending upon personal preference) Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese (or mixture of both)
32oz Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1. Remove the meat from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking, split the sausage casings length-wise and remove the sausage from the casings.
2. Heat a pan, and when heated, add all of the olive oil, and garlic, sautéing the garlic briefly, until it is fragrant but not burned.
3. Add the ground beef and sausage to the pan, using a heavy spatula break up the beef and sausage and cook the meat until it becomes brown and crumbly.
4. Remove the pan of meat from the stove and drain off excess fat.
5. Chop the peppers and onions in to large (fork sized) dice. Depending upon the overall size of the peppers and onions, (and personal preference) use one or two of each.
6. Mix the browned meat, the peppers, onions, tomatoes and pasta sauce together with the Cayenne pepper.
7. In a rectangular baking vessel (approximately 9x13 inches) layer half of the dry pasta, then spoon on half of the meat/sauce mixture, then spoon on the grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (to personal taste); then layer liberal amounts of shredded Mozzarella cheese.
8. Repeat with another layer of dry pasta, the meat/sauce mixture, and the grated Parmesan or Roman cheese (do not add a final layer of Mozzarella cheese).
9. Cover and seal the baking vessel with three, offset, overlapping layers of foil, being careful to crimp the foil very tightly around the edges
10. Place in to an oven pre-heated to 375 degrees and bake for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes remove the foil and distribute liberal amounts of shredded Mozzarella over the entire dish. Return to the oven for approximately 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
The baking dish that I use is a Corningware vessel approximately 10x12 inches, with side walls that are approximately 1-1/2 to 2 inches high. There is a lip on the top of the sidewalls, which makes it easy to fold over and seal the foil. It is OK to mound the pasta and sauce in the vessel higher than the sidewalls, as long as the mound peaks in the middle of the vessel, and tapers down at the edges. I have also prepared this dish in standard Pyrex 9x13 inch vessels, but their sidewalls are not as high. You do not add any additional liquid to this recipe. The liquid in the pasta sauce, canned tomatoes and the fresh vegetables is enough to cook through the pasta. The key is to insure that each layer of dry pasta is fully covered with some of the meat/sauce mix.
If you are nervous about the possibility that all of the dry pasta might not be exposed to enough liquid, you can alternatively, mix in the dry pasta with the wet ingredients and the cheeses first (except for the final, top layer of Mozzarella cheese), and then after everything is completely mixed, spoon it in to the baking vessel. (I dont care for this method; I think the dish presents better, with the layering technique.)
During the last few minutes of baking you can toss a Caesar salad and open a bottle of your favorite wine.
For the most part my family are Chile pepper wimps, but they never seem to detect the Cayenne in the recipe for myself, I always very liberally shake Tabasco all over my portion. This is a great meal on a cold winter evening.