Playing Rachael’s Charred Eggplant and Meat Sauce with Paccheri

The technique used here, halving and broiling the eggplant rather than roasting it whole, makes the difference that trims cooking time to suit a 30-minute meal. Charred eggplant offers a smoky, earthy flavor and it is delicious in and of itself. We serve it as an appetizer – Poor Man’s Caviar because of the look of its seeds in the roasted pulp. To make the caviar, mash the roast flesh of eggplant with pasted garlic, parsley and/or mint, lemon juice and fruity olive oil, serve with toasted bread.

From Rachael Ray Every Day, October 2018.

Please note that as of 10/4/18, there is a ground beef recall. For specifics on the scope of the recall and for updates, please refer to the CDC website here.

Ingredients
  • 1 heavy, firm eggplant
  • EVOO, for brushing, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, about 1/3 palm full
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, a fat pinch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/6 palm full
  • 2 tablespoons sundried tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • One twenty eight-ounce can Italian crushed or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 pound large pacchieri, or large rigatoni, 500 grams
  • Freshly grated pecorino cheese, about 1 cup plus some to pass at table
  • A handful of flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Preparation

Arrange rack 1 rung down from top of oven and preheat oven to high. Halve the eggplant lengthwise and brush with EVOO, season with salt and pepper and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Broil eggplant 20 minutes until skin charred and flesh collapsing and tender. The eggplant will look like flat tires. Turn the eggplant over with tongs and with the back of your chef knife scrape the flesh away from the skins, slide into a bowl or dish and mash.

Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta.  

For sauce, heat a large deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan. Add sausage and beef and brown and crumble, add garlic and season with fennel, allspice, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir in sun dried tomato paste, 2 big squirts from a tube, when you can smell the paste and it's incorporated fully, add stock or water and tomatoes, reduce heat a bit and simmer at a bubble.

Cook pasta 1 minute less than directed in salted water. Just before draining or transferring to sauce reserve ¾ cup of starchy cooking water.

Stir eggplant into meat sauce and combine with pasta and pasta cooking water and cheese, add parsley and toss a full minute then adjust salt and pepper, serve with additional cheese to pass at table.