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Toney’s Stuffed Macaroni

Stuffed macaroni was a major house specialty at Toney’s Spaghetti House on Bourbon Street, and I dish I’ve never encountered anywhere else. It’s essentially a very light, soft mixture of the same things you’d use to make meatballs, but in different proportions. Many customers ordered it with meatballs, in fact. The macaroni part was the biggest tubular pasta available. You could also roll it up in sheets of pasta, like cannelloni but smaller. Or in large pasta shells. Thanks to Jay Bonomolo, the final owner of Toney’s, for the recipe.

Stuffed Macaroni Alla Toney.

  • Sauce:
  • 2 28-oz. cans tomato puree
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • Stuffing:
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground round
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 8-oz. boxes pasta shells, manicotti sheets, or large pasta tubes
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1. Make the sauce first. (Or use your own recipe.) Pour the tomato puree into a large saucepan over medium-low heat. When it comes to a boil, lower to a simmer. Add the salt and pepper.

2. Simmer the sauce, covered, stirring every twenty minutes or so (and scraping the bottom as you do), for six hours. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. (No kidding–this is how they made the basic sauce at Toney’s.)

3. To make the stuffing, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the ground round and ground pork. Add a tablespoon or two of water and cook, using a kitchen fork to stir the meat and keep it from clumping up.

4. When the ground meat is completely browned. drain any excess fat from the saucepan. Lower the heat to the lowest possible.

5. Add all the other stuffing ingredients. Stir to blend everything uniformly. Cook for twenty minutes, stirring now and then. Taste it and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

6. Add all the other stuffing ingredients. Stir to blend everything uniformly. Cook for twenty minutes, stirring now and then. Taste it and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool. (You may do it up to this point and refrigerator.)

7. Cook the pasta until al dente (soft but still firm). Drain, the fill the pot you cooked the pasta in with cold water and 2 Tbs. olive oil. Set aside.

8. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the sauce in each of two 11″ x 9″ x 3″ casserole dishes. With clean hands, scoop up enough of the stuffing to fill one piece of pasta, and roll it like a sausage. Push it into the pasta tube, or roll it in the pasta sheet. If using shells, use a spoon for all this.

9. Lay the stuffed pasta in the casserole dishes, one layer deep. (You can stack a few on top if necessary. Ladle enough sauce to cover the stuffed pasta. Cover with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

10. Bake the stuffed pasta in a 350-degree oven until the sauce is bubbling–about twenty minutes. Serve two per person for an entree.