As I look back on the past columns I’ve written recently, it seems my taste buds are stuck in the Mediterranean. But I won’t apologize for it — some of the world’s greatest cuisines come from that area. And this week is no different.
Ragu Bolognese with Tagliatelle is a simple pasta dish with big flavor. I love this recipe because like most wonderful Italian cuisine, it’s about fresh, simple ingredients prepared in a loving way and it yields beautiful, worthy results. Ragu meaning “meat sauce” comes from Bologna, and like any good traditional cuisine there are thousands of recipes for it with minor tweaks and spins, according to family tradition or someone’s palette.
The thing I love most about this recipe is the simple list of ingredients, and the manageable yield. The recipe I normally make for Ragu Bolognese feeds an army, which is fantastic when we’re entertaining, but a bit much for our small family on a regular night. Also, like any good recipe, this sauce simmers for three hours. That means you can make it ahead of time, let it simmer and your home will smell as good as this sauce tastes.
This week’s recipe comes from a cookbook that was a birthday gift last year by a dear friend, Joanna. She shares a passion of cooking and entertaining, too. The cookbook is called Old World Italian, and it’s actually written by a French woman. You would never know it though. A flip through this book will have you longing for an Italian getaway with its gorgeous moody photography, and the author’s darling little family photos sprinkled in.
Serve this Ragu Bolognese with Tagliatelle with a bold Sangiavese wine, a hunk of crusty bread (homemade, if you like to bake bread) and maybe a fresh green salad, too. Fall weather calls for slower cooked foods, a slower pace and a happy time of year.
Ragu Bolognese with Tagliatelle*
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
1 teaspoon oregano
½ pound ground pork shoulder
10 ounces ground beef
2/3 cup red wine
2 cups tomato passata (strained puree of raw tomatoes)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef stock, plus more if needed
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Tagliatelle pasta, fresh or dried
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, onion, celery and oregano. Cook until slightly colored, about 5 minutes. Add the pork and cook until browned, then add the beef and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the red wine and cook for 2 minutes to reduce.
Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the tomato passata and tomato paste. Add the beef stock and stir well until the tomato paste is incorporated. Season with salt and black pepper. Reduce the heat to as low as possible. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, adding a few tablespoons of beef stock if the mixture looks a little dry, until you get a smooth and rich sauce, about 3 hours.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the tagliatelle to the boiling water and cook to al dente according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, toss into the ragu sauce and mix gently to combine. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan.
*Old World Italian Cookbook