A few years ago, we had the good fortune to visit Sicily. On the itinerary was a visit to the town of Corleone. Now, in our house on Christmas Eve instead of watching It’s a Wonderful Life or even National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, we watch The Godfather. A bit strange I know, but true. My husband, sons and most of his friends frequently use lines from The Godfather as shorthand to explain everyday situations. The movie has entered into the lexicon of our lives. So, of course the men were chomping at the bit to see the fabled town. The women, who like the movie but are not enamored by it, found out that there is a famous restaurant in Corleone called Leon D’Oro that gives cooking lesson. So it seemed like a win win for all.
The men balked at taking the cooking lesson. They informed us they would find a cafe and wait for us but under no circumstances were they taking a cooking class. Well, as it turns out the only gig in town was Leon D’Oro and it was either take the class or sit outside and wait for us for a couple of hours. So this is what they did:
The guys did have a lot of fun. Although, they all thought they were Clemenza and bandied about his iconic line, “Come over ‘ere, kid. Learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys some day.”
Here is one of the dishes we prepared that day – Oven Baked Anelletti
- 1 lb anelletti pasta
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 box of mirepoix
- 2 26 ounce boxes of Pomi chopped tomatoes
- 24 ounces of tomato sauce – I used Rao’s marinara
- 2 lbs of ground veal – I substituted 1lb of ground chicken and 1lb of ground beef
- 1/2 cup of white wine
- 2 parmesan rinds
- 1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 3 medium sized purple eggplants
- 34 ounces of chopped mozzarella
- 1/4 cup ofgrated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup of toasted breadcrumbs
- 1/2 stick of butter
For the Ragu Sauce:
- Heat the olive oil in a deep pot and sauté the mirepoix until golden.
- Add the meat and thoroughly brown.
- Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to the mixture.
- Add the white wine and cook until evaporated.
- Next add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 15 minutes.
- Then add the tomato sauce.
- Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook for 4 hours.
For the eggplant:
- Peel the eggplants and cut into large pieces. I cut the eggplants into 1/2inch discs and then quartered the circles.
- Either brown the eggplant pieces in olive oil on top of the range or cook in a air fryer until brown.
For the Pasta:
- When the Ragu has cooked 3 hours add the eggplant to the sauce.
- At 4 hours turn off the sauce and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Butter a large oven proof dish.
- Combine the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and cover the sides and bottom of the dish.
- Bring a well salted pot of water to a rolling boil and cook the pasta for 3 minutes.
- Drain well and combine the sauce and the pasta and the mozzarella cheese.
- Put in the buttered dish and top with bread crumb mixture.
- Dot the top of the Anelletti mixture with butter.
- Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
Special Notes: This looks like a lot of work but I make the Ragu the day before. I think any Italian sauce always improves with age and it makes it an easy dish for company. This makes enough pasta for 8 people with leftovers. I start with a Sicilian Blood Orange Salad. And, yes I know that oranges symbolize death in the movie but I assure you no-one has ever died while eating at my table. After the salad I then serve the pasta with chicken cutlets and then, what else, cannoli for dessert. I hope you enjoy.
Talk soon, ❤️💕 Bernadette