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Stuffed Shells with Pork Ragù

To stuff the pasta shells neatly and easily, put the ricotta filling in a plastic bag. Work the filling into the bottom of the bag and twist the top of the bag to close. Snip off one corner of the bag and squeeze the filling into the shells.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 lb. conchiglioni or other large pasta shells
  • 2 lb. fresh ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups pork ragù, homemade (see related recipe at left) or purchased

Directions:

Cook the pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the 2 Tbs. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until still very al dente, about 3 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain and rinse under running cold water to stop the cooking; drain well and set aside.

Prepare the filling
Preheat an oven to 375°F.

In a bowl, combine the ricotta, egg yolks, 1 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the nutmeg, the 1 tsp. salt and the pepper.

Stuff and bake the shells
On the bottom of a 9-by-12-inch baking dish, spread 2 to 3 Tbs. of the ragù.

Using a plastic bag or a teaspoon (see note above), stuff the pasta shells with the filling. Do not overstuff. Place the stuffed shells in the prepared dish and top with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until golden and bubbly, 10 minutes longer.

Remove the shells from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Pasta, by Julia della Croce (Oxmoor House, 2006).