I came across this recipe on the interwebs and thought it looked promising: uncooked manicotti stuffed with a mixture of seasoned beef and refried beans, basted with picante sauce and ‘waved for, like, 20 minutes.
Tasty! (and it was).
Total time to prep and cook was listed as 45 minutes, and I was standing there stuffing pasta for more than one hour.
So. The author and the interwebs site get no credit or link from me – when I went back to the original site to see what the heck I did wrong, I noticed that the featured picture of the completed dish was even misleading: pristine tubes of pasta with a pretty stream of bright red picante sauce down the center. There is no way in heck this dish could be prepared as written and look like that.
Still and all, this is really, very, very good, and I would make it again, just plan my time more realistically.
•1 pound ground beef
•1-1/2 cup diced sweet onion
•1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
•1 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
•1/4 tsp taco seasoning
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce*
•1 tsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 (8 ounce) package manicotti shells, uncooked
•1-1/4 cups water
•1 (16 ounce) jar picante sauce
•1 cup sour cream
•1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese*
•Chopped green onions
*Feel free to substitute your own preferred hot sauce(s) and seasonings. I used jalapeño Cheddar cheese in place of the Jack, and thought it quite nice.
Warm a skillet or large pot over medium high heat and add the ground beef.
Cook, stirring and breaking the beef up into tiny chunks for five minutes, then add the diced onion.
Continue to cook until the beef is nicely browned and the onion tender, about another eight to ten minutes. Transfer the beef and onion mixture to a colander to drain off any fat.
This next part can go two ways; you can turn the refried beans into a dish and pop into the ‘wave for five or ten minutes to soften them, or, you can put them in the pot you cooked the beef and onion in and them bake them, covered, in a 250º oven for 30 minutes until nicely softened while the beef and onion mixture drains. Saves a pan and, with the amount of time your gonna spend stuffing pasta, the 30 minutes should not be an issue. I liked getting a bit of the beef and onion flavor into the beans, and not dirtying another dish in prep.
Once the refried beans are nicely softened, stir in the beef mixture and seasonings until well blended.
Brush a 9×12 ‘wave safe baking dish with oil (I used bacon fat, because, why not?).
Get comfortable, because this will take a while…
Spoon the seasoned beef and bean mixture into the manicotti shells and arrange in the prepared baking pan. This took me 90 minutes to get the ten shells shown. I had more of the beef and bean mixture, but was so ticked off about how very late it was and how dinner was simply not gonna happen that night due to some editor/food poster writing an incredibly misleading set of instructions that I skipped stuffing the remaining manicotti and added the rest of the beef and bean mixture to some leftover pinto beans. Details and that happy combination to come.
Note: stay with me here; in the end, even with how very time consuming it was to stuff the pasta, this is a very tasty dish, so, plan to take your time, and I believe you will be happy with your dinner.
Stir the water together with the picante sauce and pour over the stuffed manicotti in the pan.
Cover the pan with ‘wave safe plastic wrap, then use a knife to cut a couple of small wholes in the top to allow steam to vent.
‘Wave at full power for ten minutes, then carefully peel back the plastic wrap and baste the pasta with the picante sauce mixture.
Recover and ‘wave at 50% power for another 15 minutes or so – supposedly until the pasta is tender and any excess liquid has been absorbed.
Here’s what I did:
Prep (stuffing those darned pasta tubes) took so long that it was now late in the evening, my (very) patient and understanding husband had dined on chips and popcorn, and we were most certainly looking at a dinner the next day kind of deal; so I ‘waved the dish for only another ten minutes at 50% power, then pulled the pan out and set it aside to cool.
Once thoroughly cooled, I covered the pan with foil and popped it into the fridge to rest overnight (note the amount of liquid remaining in the bottom of the pan).
The next day, about 90 minutes before I planned to serve dinner, I pulled the pan out of the fridge to come up to room temperature. Note that the liquid that had been at the bottom of the pan has been absorbed into the pasta.
This is a good thing.
Heat your oven to 300º and pop the room temp baking pan, tightly covered with foil, in for 30 or 40 minutes, until everything is heated through.
Remove the foil, top the manicotti with the shredded cheese, and return to the oven, uncovered, for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted and bubbly.
Remove from the oven and let rest for ten minutes before serving.
Top the pasta with sliced scallions and serve with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. We had ours with a corn bread salad and those very nice (details to come) pinto and refried black beans on the side.
Seriously, I would make this again, but I would plan ahead for the prep time and the overnight rest in the fridge. Let’s face it, most dishes like this taste so much better the day after anyway, why not just decide to make them on a slow day and have ’em ready for a quick-ish finish on a not-so-slow one?