Ragu

It’s ok to be a snob sometimes, for the right cause. I paid my dues growing up on dad’s “meat sauce,” a pile of ground beef and tomatoes on top of undressed white spaghetti. And that would have been the legacy of Bolognese sauce, if I hadn’t visited Bologna. If I hadn’t eaten this rich, orange sauce over and over and over, in lasagna, on tortelloni, and pasta and the neighbor hadn’t come over and lectured us about it for three hours holding up his vile of sauce like it was the holy grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and I hadn’t taken a class at the U of Bologna and been forced into a sweltering hot back office in one of the University buildings, where a middle-aged woman showed us how to make pasta from scratch and cook this sauce. She was very precise in her directions. Very insistent, as Italians tend to be, that what she was making was the one and only correct version of the dish. This is what she taught me. Have it with an egg pasta. I’m not speaking for myself but for them, Italians. That’s what they told me to say. Use the good cheese.

Ragu

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 lb pancetta, cubed
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • bay leaf
  • white wine
  • chicken stock
  • tomato paste or concentrated sauce
  • a few herbs (parsley, thyme work best)
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 4-6 servings tagliatelle

Preparation

Salt the meat and brown it in a dutch oven or pot. Then remove and put aside. Add finely minced or grated carrot, celery, onion and garlic, salt them well and saute until tender and translucent in the leftover fat from the meat, add a touch of olive oil and herbs. Return the meat to the pot with the veggies, cover with a cup of white wine, some stock, bay leaf, a few tablespoons of tomato paste, extra salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let simmer at least and hour and a half, removing the lid and stirring occasionally.  The sauce should take on a slight orange color, with fat rising to the surface. At the end, add about a cup of grated cheese.

To serve, cook tagliatelle in salted boiling water, toss with the heated sauce to finish cooking on the stove. Serve with extra heaping of cheese on top.

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