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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Johnny Marzetti Casserole

I saw someone on one of the blogs I dropped by was looking for a great recipe to serve a group. Here is a great one that I found sounds delicious

Johnny Marzetti Casserole
* 2 lb. lean ground beef (like sirloin)
* 2 lb. ground chuck (fat gives lots of flavor)
* 2 lb. fresh Italian sausage (fat links)
* 2-3 very large onions, chopped
* 3-4 ribs celery, chopped
* 4-5 large Italian sweet peppers, chopped
* 6 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
* 1 lb. fresh button mushrooms, halved
* 6 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tsp. dried fennel seeds
* 1 tsp. black pepper
* 2 tsp, salt (or to taste)
* 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
* 3 (24-28-32) oz. jars spaghetti sauce (can all be different)
* 8 oz. elbow macaroni
* 8 oz. thin spaghetti (broken into inch long pieces)
* 8 oz. Ziti
* 8 oz. small seashell macaroni
* 12 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
* 16 oz. large-curd cottage cheese
* 16 oz. ricotta cheese
* 16 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
* 1 cup Parmesan or Romano Cheese, fresh grated if possible
* 1/2 cup olive oil (for pastora)
* 1/2-2/3 cup Parmesan / Romano Cheese, fresh grated if possible (for pasta)
* 1 (12 oz.) jar Manzanita green olives - stuffed with pimento,drained)
* 2 large cans (15 oz.) medium black olives, drained
* 1 (8 oz.) jar pickled Italian peperoncini peppers (drained)
* 3-4 cups seasoned Italian bread crumbs
In a medium skillet, cook Italian sausage until it's brown, beginning to caramelize and thoroughly done. Drain on paper towel, squeezing to remove as much grease as possible and cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside In a very large pot, brown lean ground beef and ground chuck together. Drain all fat off and add chopped celery, Italian peppers, and onions. Add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, parsley, and garlic. Stir constantly until meat
is almost done. Add mushrooms and continue to stir until they are starting to turn dark. Lower
heat, cover and allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes. Add the 3 jars spaghetti sauce, Italian sausage, green and black olives, and peperoncini. Mix all together well and cover. Keep hot. Boil water for pastas. If you have a really large pot, you may cook them all at once by adding the ziti first, the elbow macaroni 5 minutes later, seashell pasta 2 minutes after that. and the thin spaghetti last. Allow to boil in salted water for 8-10 more minutes. Remove from heat, drain carefully, and put it all back into the large pot. I have to cook each pasta separately, then mix them
together in a large plastic dishpan. Stir in the 1/2 cup of olive oil, and the 1/2-2/3 cup of Parmesan / Romano cheese (doesn't have to be exact). Cover with foil and set aside. In a very large mixing bowl, mix the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, shredded cheddar, and mozzarella cheeses together as evenly as possible. To assemble all the prepared ingredients, begin by greasing the large baking pan with olive oil. Add a thin layer of the mixed pastas. Add a layer of the meat and sauce mixture so that the pasta is covered. Add a layer of the mixed cheeses
and sprinkle on Parmesan / Romano Cheese. Repeat until you have used all the pasta, meat mixture, and cheese. You'll want to make the final layer cheese, then sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 1 hour.
Uncover the pan and continue baking until top is lightly browned and food is all hot and bubbly. (Another 30-45 minutes depending on your oven. Serve with green salad and loaves of crispy garlic bread or hot Italian bread baguettes.

Call in all the family, friends and neighbors. This may be the most "Italian"
dish I've ever made. The aroma when it's baking is just heavenly and the flavors
only get better if you should have leftovers the next day.

Servings: 40

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