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I call it Pasticho

I grew up in Caracas-Venezuela. My upbringing was very Venezuelan, my neighbors were from, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Every morning I woke up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and fresh baked bread from the bakery across the street. The owner of the bakery Jose Maria lived on the same floor I lived. Thinking back I lived surrounded by small stores owned by people from many diverse cultures, mostly Europeans. Early in my teenage years I became more close to my neighbor from the 4th floor, her name is Rosa. She is an INCREDIBLE passionate person. She introduced me to passionate cooking, especially Italian which is were she was from. She had a son my age and we used to hangout together but the real reason why I loved going to the 4th floor was for her food. She was always cooking, baking, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes 🚬. One day I was in-charge of cooking lunch and as usual Rosa would stop by my house on her way home to smoke a cigarette with my mom and drink a cup of coffee. While there she would always ask for any empty glass containers so she could save her delicious tomato sauce. She saw me making marinara sauce and the ingredient were, sautéed onions, Aji, peppers, leeks garlic and some tomatoes . She asked what are you doing? My answer: pasta sauce. Her response, are you making a stew or are you crazy (all in an Italian accent and loud passionate voice)? I can still hear her horrified voice of how you are ruining the sauce by adding so many ingredients. She offered to show me how to make a good tomato sauce and I said YES!

So days later I went to the 4th floor and she sautéed some garlic in some olive oil and added her delicious tomato sauce that she had stored in a Pepsi-cola bottle and seasoned with salt, pepper, fresh oregano and fresh basil. She had a cigarette in her lips while she was cooking and grabbed a piece of bread, dipped it in the sauce and put the bread in my mouth and asked, what do you think? I was totally blown away with the flavor and yet the simplicity of the ingredients. She then cooked some fresh pasta and we had a lunch I will never forget. Then we had coffee brewed from a grecca and watched Telenovelas. I think I was 14 or 15 when she taught me how to make pasticho (Lasagna) which is a very laborious process because we had to boil the noodles one by one so they wouldn't stick to each other. The sauce was cooked for hours. But over the years I mastered her recipe and modernize it with the same result. I still missed cooking with Rosa, she made such an impression on my life and we still keep in touch today and talk about those memories.




Ingredients

Bologna Sauce

  1. 1 1/2 pound of ground beef

  2. 1 can of diced tomatoes with Basil 28 OZ I used CENTO

  3. 1 can of tomato paste

  4. 1 diced shallot, white onion or red onion

  5. 5 peeled garlic cloves

  6. 1 tablespoon of dry oregano

  7. 1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning

  8. 1 bay leave

  9. Fresh Basil

  10. 1 teaspoon of red chili pepper

  11. 2 tablespoon of olive oil

  12. Salt and fresh ground pepper TT





Directions

In a medium size pan add the olive oil then turn on the heat at medium low. While the pan its cold add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes then add the garlic then cook for only 1 minute. T Add the ground beef and seasoned with half of the Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper and black pepper, cook at a medium low heat until brown, then add the tomato paste. Stir constantly until the paste is completely dissolved and blend with the meat. Add the tomato sauce the rest of the seasoning, the bay leaves and fresh basil, cover and let it simmer for at least 30 min. If the sauce is to thick add half of cup of water.




Bechamel Sauce

  1. 1 stick of salted butter

  2. 1/2 cup flour

  3. 4 cups of warm milk

  4. 1 tablespoon of fresh grated nutmeg

  5. 1/2 tbsp salt and fresh ground pepper

For the Pasticho

  1. 1 package of flat lasagna pasta ( not boiling required)

  2. 32 oz of fresh shredded mozzarella

  3. 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese 🧀

  4. 1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley

Directions

Medium low heat melt the butter on a pan and add the flour and whisk until creamy, add the warm milk gradually and whisk constantly. Seassoned with the salt, nutmeg and pepper then continue whisking until you get a smooth and creamy sauce.



Assembly the Pasticho

Pre-heat the over at 350

Start layering in the following order: Bologna sauce, pasta noodle, bolognese, béchamel sauce, mozzarella cheese and parsley. Repeat for three or four times. The last layered most cover the pasta completely. Spray the aluminum foil with olive oil to avoid sticking to the pasta. Cover and baked for 30 min. The remove the foil and finally, add the parmesan grated cheese at the top to get a golden au gratin finish and broiled for 3 min.



Buen Provecho. buon appetite. Enjoy




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