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Baked rigatoni
From Matty Matheson: A Cookbook

Baked rigatoni

This rich and cheesy dish is perfect family fare

Time: 1.5 hours


  • 225g ground pork
  • 225g ground veal
  • 225g ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 100g freshly grated
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 50g dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 turns freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried red chile flakes
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 2 litres gravy
  • 2 (16-ounce/455 g) boxes dried large rigatoni
  • 2 balls mozzarella cheese, one cubed and one shredded


  1. Place all the ground meat in a large bowl. Crack the egg on top and add the Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, 2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, chilli flakes, garlic, 4 tablespoons (60 ml) oil, and 2 tablespoons water. Mix with your hands—make sure to dig deep with your fingers and use your shoulders to really work the mixture.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place two spoons in a cup of water; use one spoon for scooping and the other for scraping off. Make sure to dip your spoons into the water every other scoop. Scoop 1 tablespoon meat and scrape it onto the baking sheet; make little rows until done. Lightly coat your hands with oil and form the meat piles into perfect little balls.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C). In a Dutch oven, pour ½ inch (12 mm) of oil and set over medium-high heat. Place the balls in the pot, but don’t overcrowd the pot. Brown the meatballs in batches and place on a rack while you build your casserole.
  4. We are going to build the casserole hot so it just has to brown in the oven. In a small pot, heat the gravy. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the pasta until al dente. Check the pasta every few minutes to make sure you’re not overcooking. Because we are baking in the oven, we don’t want mushy noodles! We want perfect rigatoni.
  5. Drain the pasta and pour most of it into a 9 by 13-inch (23 by 33 cm) baking dish, then add enough sauce to cover the noodles and stir. You don’t want the casserole soupy and you don’t want it dry; you can always add, but you can never take away. That’s why I like building this by eye once all the ingredients are ready: You can add more sauce, meatballs, and rigatoni depending on your tastes. Stir the cubed mozzarella into the casserole, then add as many meatballs as you want. Stir to evenly disperse everything, then cover with a few ladles of sauce and the shredded mozzarella. Bake 20 minutes, or until the edges are almost burnt, the cheese is golden brown, and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes.

Recipe taken from Matty Matheson A Cookbook by Matty Matheson (Abrams)