Ragù alla bolognese recipe

Just finished having some leftover polenta with some leftover ragu’…mmmmmmmhhhh awesome. Yesterday I was thinking I should cook proper ragu’ and bake lasagne more often. I remember when my mom did lasagne for lunch and the 3 of us kids would eat 3 or 4 helpings in no time. I studied at my mom school and I learned the secret of an awesome ragu’ is to let it cook for at least 2 hours. Plus, of course, putting in the right ingredients.

With an awesome ragu’ you can do awesome lasagne, awesome pasta and even eat it over polenta like an awesome chili. Yesterday I used my ragu’ as a sauce for pasta and today I put it on my leftover polenta, but I am now thinking I have to make a new batch soon and use it to make some Lasagna: it has been far too long since last time I had some proper good lasagna…. but I am digressing… Let’s go back to the ragu’, saving lasagne for a separate post.

Ingredients

  • 1lb of lean ground beef
  • 1 bratwurst or 1 breakfast sausage
  • 1-2 oz of mortadella or hot dog/ beef frank
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 oz of pancetta (or bacon)
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 medium onion
  • red wine
  • salt
  • pepper
  • EVOO

Directions

  1. First take a pot with an heavy bottom or even better a dutch oven and pour in a couple of spoons of oil. Chop in a blender 2-3 carrots, 2-3 stalks of celery, 1 medium onion or half a large onion and a couple of ounces of pancetta (you can substitute with bacon, but in this case you will get a strong smoky taste to your ragu’ which is not typical of the original version). Pour the chopped mixture in your warm oil with a couple of bay leaves, add salt and cook for about 5 min or until the vegetables are tender and fragrant.
  2. Add your lean ground meat (about 1 lb), 1 bratwurst or a breakfast sausage without its skin and an ounce or 2 of ground mortadella (can be more or less substituted with a beef frank or an hot dog).
  3. Stir everything so that the meats combine and when the meat is well browned add 1/2 a cup or so of red wine. Let the wine evaporate and then add your tomatoes. For this quantities about 1 cup of tomato sauce should be plenty. You don’t want the meat to swim in tomato, you just want the meat to cook in tomato so it absorbs all that nice tomato taste.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper cover with a lid and let cook.
  5. …and let cook
  6. …and let cook
  7. Basically you want the sauce to cook on low heat for 2 to 5 hours, the more you cook it the better it is, but really you should cook it for at least 2 hours. You only have to occasionally stir the sauce and eventually add a bit of water once in a while to avoid burning the sauce.
  8. I usually cook ragu’ after dinner and let it cook until I go to bed. When I go to bed I turn it off and let it sit over night. The next day I use it to do whatever I wanted to do with it and the flavor is even better than the night before, because the flavors have had the time to come together and develop.
  9. Great now I really want Lasagne!

Italian lamb ragu recipe

I opened the freezer and I had some ground lamb. Of course in my pantry pasta and tomato sauce or paste are never missing. So I thought lamb ragu! And I put together a wholesome pasta with a rich meat sauce. The lighter eating will start today (or maybe tomorrow), but the eating well has already started!

Lamb ragu’

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb ground lamb
  • 1/2 onion
  • 5 oz. pasta
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 oz. grated pecorino
  • cilantro
  • red wine
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. In a pan, saute the diced onion in a bit of oil until it’s soft. Add in the ground lamb and sear the meat for a couple of minutes. When the meat is well browned, add a splash of red wine and let the alcohol evaporate.
  2. Add the tomato paste to the sauce and enough water to get a somewhat liquid sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste and let it simmer covered for a couple of hours: I let it cook for a little longer than 2 hours, but as is the case for ragu’ alla bolognese here the longer the cooking the better the sauce. If the sauce becomes to thick, add some more water to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
  3. When you are ready to eat cook your pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. I used some hearty fetuccine but any kind of long hearty pasta (tagliatelle, spaghettoni, bucatini, spaghetti alla chitarra) would work well. Drain the pasta al dente and mix it with the meat sauce. Add cilantro and grated pecorino cheese to taste and serve hot.