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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tagliatelle con Ragu alla Bolognese

Baby cut to the chase on this one, as we wanted to make Bolognese sauce with tagliatelle pasta for our guests but didn't have the luxury of over four hours to patiently labor over a gently simmering ragu. We did make the pasta, however. The process is very simple really when abetted by a KitchenAid mixer pasta attachment. We called our guests into the kitchen and all of us had a hand at making our own tagliatelle. It was quite fun! Otherwise buy fresh pasta to further save time and effort. But back to the sauce: we turned up the heat and fiercely cooked it down, evaporating much of the liquid, and the whole thing was ready in a little over an hour. Just lower the heat when adding in the milk. And so, we served a most delicious, fragrant and handsome short-version Ragu alla Bolognese!

Tagliatelle con Ragu alla Bolognese
Adapted from La Cucina Italiana
For the sauce:1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, preferably San Marzano
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon tomato paste, preferably double concentrated
1 beef bouillon cube
1 celery rib, roughly chopped
1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/2 medium carrot, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
2 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, finely chopped
3/4 pound ground beef (not lean)
3/4 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup whole milk
Freshly grated nutmeg

For serving:Fresh tagliatelle, or other pasta, cooked until tender in salted water
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Purée tomatoes and their juice in blender until smooth; set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a simmer; whisk in tomato paste and beef base. Remove from heat; set aside.
Make a battuto (the foundation for many Italian soups, stews and sauces) by finely chopping together (by hand) celery, onion and carrot.
Heat butter over medium-low heat until melted and foaming; add battuto, sausage and pancetta. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sausage is broken into small bits, then continue cooking, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened (do not brown), about 25 minutes.
Add beef, pork and veal; increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring until meat is broken into small bits, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for 10 minutes more (do not brown).
Add wine; bring to a boil and cook until wine and juices in pot are mostly evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Add reserved puréed tomato, reserved beef base mixture and bay leaf.
Cook ragù at the barest simmer, stirring occasionally (making sure to stir into edges of pot), until meat is very tender and sauce is thick (as sauce thickens, add water, bit by bit, if necessary, to keep sauce moist and just barely liquid), about
2 1/2 hours.
Add milk and continue cooking for 30 minutes more. Stir in pinch nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve
Toss the ragù with pasta using 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of sauce per pound of pasta. Serve immediately with cheese.

Photo Credit: G. Giraldo

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