The reason this recipe is called Christmas pasta is, in Rachael's words, "For Italians, after all those fishes on Christmas Eve, this dish, with four different meats in it, is especially nice on Christmas Night".
Kevin did the same thing that I am sure many of you did when you first read the recipe title...
K: But it's not Christmas.
B: Yes, yes, I know honey, this isn't JUST for Christmas, it is just the name of the recipe.
K: Well if it isn't JUST for Christmas why is it called Christmas Pasta.
B: Rachael explains in the recipe that it was just her way of getting "meat" in a meal after all the fish Italians eat on Christmas Eve.
K: Well I still think she should have named it something else.
B: Maybe you are right....now can we cook?
When you first look at this recipe it seems like a lot of ingredients and well, it is a lot of ingredients, but not a big hassle to make. Rachael mentions that she has used this recipe in several of her books and is constantly redoing it to make it quicker and easier. I think it is just fine the way it is.
Oh and Kevin decided he loved this. He is the one that looks at a meal I might be making and the first thing he asks "Is there meat?". I will never sneak vegetarian food in on him that is for sure. I am walking a fine line when I make Pasta Carbonara! He still doesn't like the name of the recipe though. Oh well, as long as they eat it right?
I am not Italian, but I can tell you that this was a BIG bowl of Merry Christmas to ME!
The picture does not do this meal justice, I am sorry!
1 pound rigatoni2 tablespoons EVOO
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
1/4 pound bulk hot Italian sausage (No bulk? Split a link open)
1/4 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 teaspoon allspice, eyeball it in your palm
Course black pepper
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup dry red wine, a couple of glugs
1 cup beef stock
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves (a generous handful), finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese (a couple of handfuls), plus some to pass at the table
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the pasta and cook to al dente, with a bite to it.
While the water and pasta work, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon EVOO. Add the pancetta to one half of the pan, the sausage, both hot and sweet, to the other. Break up the sausage into bits and brown while the pancetta renders, then combine and cook together another minute of so. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the remaining tablespoon of EVOO, then the beef and veal. Brown and crumble all of the meat into tiny bits and season with allspice, salt, and pepper. Add the carrots, onions, and garlic and cook another 5 to 6 minutes to soften the vegetables, then add the sausage and pancetta back into the pan. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up all of the browned bits from the bottom. Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes. Check the seasoning. Simmer over low heat until ready to serve, at least 10 minutes.
Drain the pasta and add back to the hot pot. Ladle a few spoonfuls of the sauce over the pasta, and add a couple of handfuls of cheese to the pot. Stir to coat the pasta evenly. Transfer to a large serving dish or individual bowls and top with the remaining sauce and parsley. Pass plenty of extra cheese at the table.