In the kitchen with Phlip -- Let's bake some pasta

Took the camera into the kitchen with me today for one of those things that I do often... Today will be baked pasta. There are not many ways that one can fuck this up, but there are MANY ways to make it better, and I have spent quite a while making it out to my own standards. Some of the things I use are not "standards," with regards to how one may do this themselves. Fact, here is that there are variations on it and I am not sure that it comes out the same every time.

Let's start with a toolkit...

Hardware:

Cast iron pan, fresh out the sink (yes, it is older than my 35 year-old sister):


The tool of choice for John Rambo and allegedly Orenthal James Simpson:


Long handle spoon for stirring:


Spatula:


Kickass motherfucking can opener:


4-qt pots, 2 of them:


Long baking pan:


Colander:



Food Stuffs:

Ground Turkey, 2 pounds:

(you can use beef, you can also boil or bake then dice chicken)

Diced onions, I only used one of these:

(I used pre-cut diced yellow onions, which also come in red onions, or in mixes containing green/red/yellow peppers, I use what is in my fridge)

Garlic:


Seasoning mix (stock photo, lol):


Pasta:



(this is an option you can exact for yourself, based on ANY shape they have, as long as it is a durum semolina macaroni product)

Of course, pasta sauce:


Cheese:


Celery (yes, CELERY, bitches!):


Now, let's get down to business...

Start by dicing up the celery:

... then mix it up with the onions and peppers and mushrooms (I know I didn't mention those because I did not have them, but sometimes I do)
You will now coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil, and turn on medium-hi heat... When the pan is up to temp, you will put the onion/pepper/celery/whatever mix into it and pay CLOSE attention to it with the spatula to keep it from sticking... I like my sauteed/caramelized veggies to still be a bit firm, so I pay CLOSE attention to texture, and stop when they look about like this:


Now, go ahead and put these into the pan that you will have your final sauce mixture in, to lie in wait for the meat that you will be browning next.
Your cast iron pan is probably only big enough to do one pound of the meat at a time, but that will be okay. Pan a little past medium-hi now (8/10 on my stove) and will look about like this after only a few minutes of cooking:

... repeat with the other pound, pour UNDRAINED (if turkey, drain it if you use beef) into same pot with the sauteed veggie mix in it. At this point, put one HEAPING spoonful of the minced garlic into the pot, and 2-4 (to your taste) of the seasoning mix into the pot, break out the big spoon and stir it ALL together... Place this on low heat, but DO NOT put the sauce into the mix yet. Do it like this because it helps to infuse the flavor of the seasoning/veggies into the meat, instead of losing it in tomatoes, trust this works.
Image:

... do this on low heat for about 20-30 minutes and go ahead and get ready to boil your noodles.
There will not be pictures of the noodles boiling because, well, THAT is not at all difficult. Again, you can use ANY kind of noodles you want, I chose to use 16oz of Ziti Rigati and 8oz of Angel Hair. Different pasta manufacturers have different times to boil them to your own preferences, but keep in mind that I do not enjoy "boiled to fucking mush" pasta, I prefer "al dente," which is usually one of the firmer settings, keeping in mind that I WILL be baking this before I am done.
Once you have boiled your noodles, strain them in the colander, but DO NOT FUCKING RINSE THEM!!! Rinsing them rinses off things about them that makes them good for you and serves prohibitive to the sauce adhering to the noodles.
Now, go ahead and turn the oven on 375° and dump the noodles into the long pan you will be baking in. Go back to the big spoon and mix it all up real good:


Now, sprinkle cheese on top, the amount to use is as per your own preference, but I used about a damned pound:


Now, put the whole thing in the oven, leave it there until the cheese is CLEARLY melted, then leave it there about 5-10 more minutes, then pull it out and take a picture of it:






The quantities named above will feed A WHOLE FUCKING LOT of people, feel free to cut amounts as per your own personal preferences to lower amounts, and do not hesitate to substitute for things you might otherwise prefer to what was named.
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