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POTATO TIMBALE WITH MEAT SAUCE AND PEAS

Sformato di patate al ragu

Sicily
Easier than it looks
Serves 10

Although this dish calls for many ingredients, they are all readily available and the dish is easv to make; yet somehow, it seems elaborate. In the time of the monzu' chefs. it was called gatto di patate, from gateau or cake in French. Normally we eat it hot, then have the leftovers -if any- cold the next day. It tastes even better!

Ragu' Filling

l onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1/2 cup (60 g) fresh or frozen small peas
l pound (450 g) ground beef
l stalk celery, chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
1/2 cup (85 g) tomato paste, preferably sun-dried
l cup (250 ml) water
1/2 cup (60 g) diced boiled ham
l cup (/40 g) finely diced young caciocavallo cheese or a combination of gouda, fontina, and mozzarella
1/4 cup (30 g) chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt

4 1/2 pounds (2 kg) russet (baking) or all-purpose potatoes, scrubbed
7 tablespoons (100 g) butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (90 g) grated caciocavallo or parmesan
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup (50 g) dry breadcrumbs

SAUTE' the onion in the olive oil in a large saute' pan until soft. Add the peas and beef and saute' until the meat is browned. Add the celery and wine and cook nntil the wine evaporates.

MIX in the tomato paste amid water and cook. uncovered, for abont 30 minutes. The mixture should be dry, not watery.

STIR in the ham, the cheeses, and the parsley and remove from heat.

TASTE and add salt if necessary. The filling can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.

BOIL the potatoes in boiling salted water until done. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. Peel the potatoes and rice (using a 'mouli' or a wooden spoon and a sieve) them into a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter, the eggs, grated cheese, nutmeg, and salt to taste. Combine thoroughly using your hands.

PREHEAT the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

BUTTER the bottom and sides of a 10-inch (25-cm) springform or other round pan and sprinkle generously with the breadcrumbs (You will not use all the butter or breadcrumbs.) Spread about three fourths of the potato mixture about 1/2 inch (1,5 cm) thick on the bottom and sides of the pan, smoothing the layer with your hands to form a shell

SPOON the filling into the potato shell, pushing the filling to the sides and smoothing the top. Cover with the remaining potato mixture, spreading it to the edges. Sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter

BAKE for 15 minutes.

REDUCE the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C.) and continue baking until golden brown, about 30 minutes more.

REMOVE from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Let stand for 25 minutes. Unmold and serve at room temperature or cold the next day

From:
THE FLAVORS OF SICILY
Anna Tasca Lanza
Potter

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