Tonight I am going to take you to a city in northern Italy: the city of Bologna. This is where this plate originated, a thick meaty flavorful sauce tossed with pasta al dente. This is a staple dish of Bologna.
I remember when I was a child and it would be Sunday morning with Italian music playing in the background a playlist from "Panorama Italiano", an Italian program on the radio. There was this robust smell coming from the kitchen and my brother and I would be waiting to have a sauce sandwich. My mother or father would be gone from the kitchen and we would both grab a piece of pagnotta bread and get the wood spoon and reach for the bottom of the pot to scoop up some meat and the thick tomato sauce and laying it on the bread folding it over and that was the end of that sandwich, gone in just a few seconds and the happiness on our faces unsurpassable with the outline of the rich tomatoes on our mouths, yes this was the life until a shoe or a scream from my mother to get out of the kitchen broke our bliss and us laughing and running away, great memories.
The sauce is also known as ragù, the basis a mirepoix or as us Italians say soffritto, an assortment of celery, carrots, and onions sautéd in olive oil and then meat, wine, and milk finished with a tomato paste or puréed tomatoes. Stewed for many hours intensifying the flavor immensely, served with spaghetti and topped with fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Always a pleasure with great accompanying memories.
Tonight's recipe is Ragu' alla Bolognese.
I am serving the dish with a nice homemade red wine which I make every year with my father. My father was a wine maker in Italy where their vineyard produced 2000 to 3000 litres of wine a year. I had the opportunity to see this place thanks to my beautiful wife which I am forever grateful. For what I felt there fueled a desire to keep the tradition of wine making alive in our family. Thanks to my dad for teaching me. I am pairing tonight's pasta dish with a rich Ruby Cabernet from our private stock of Nardelli wines.
Enjoy and Buon appetito!Print
- 1 pound of extra lean ground beef
- ½ cup of pancetta minced
- 2 celery stalks chopped finely
- 1 large carrot chopped finely
- ½ yellow onion chopped finely
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ of the 796ml can of san marzano D.O.P. Tomatoes pureed
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 glass red wine
- 1 cup milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- 400 grams good quality Italian pasta (usually spaghetti)
- In a heavy cast pot drizzle olive oil to cover bottom of pot.Toss in celery, carrots, onions, bay leaf.
- Sauté till onions are translucent.
- Add ground beef breaking it up till it is a fine crumble .
- Add minced pancetta and cook until brown
- Stir in wine and let evaporate a bit.
- Stir in milk, keep some to add later.
- Toss in tomato paste, san marzano tomatoes pureed and blend.
- Simmer for 4 hours adding milk as the moisture dissipates.
- Turn off heat and let sit.
- In a large pot fill with water and salt to taste, bring to boil. Add the pasta and see cooking times but most brands are anywhere in between 8 to 12 minutes.
- Toss in pan with sauce.
- Plate and sprinkle with grated parmigiano reggiano.
- Serving Size: 4 portions
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