From my beautiful trips to Tuscany I bring you a recipe and how-to for ragù, a hearty meat sauce for pasta. It’s the meat version of the “fake sauce” I brought you in a recent post.
Ragù is a tomato-based meat sauce and nothing like the sauce in the jar by the same name on US supermarket shelves. It’s also known as Bolognese
sauce here in Germany. Ragù is not to be confused with ragout, although the words are pronounced the same and are from the same linguistic root. Ragout is a stew and a main dish.
I’ve encountered the recipe for ragù on a couple of different occasions. And there are as many versions of this sauce as there are cooks who make it. But the best one that I’ve ever had was the one from Santa Giulia, a small wine estate near Montalcino and a small producer of the famous Brunello wine. I might mention they had just about the best wine of the trip, too.
Here’s a photo of the hilltop town of Montalcino I took from the ramparts of the fortress above the city:
Here’s a shot of Mama Mirabelle in her kitchen at the beautiful farm house at the Santa Giulia estate fussing over her pasta sauce:
She didn’t speak English, but with the help of her son and our tour guide, she happily gave me the instructions for the ragù and the other wonderful goodies we tasted that day.
Her version of ragù uses 10% ground pork and 90% ground beef. It can also be made with other meats – chicken, turkey, wild game – in just about any combination. The ragù recipe from my Tuscan cooking lessons at Tenuto Casanova last year calls for a third ground pork and two-thirds ground beef. Another recipe from my Tuscan cooking lessons at Fattoria di Corsignano recommends a ratio of 50:50. You could also use 100% beef if you like.
The recipe here starts with sauteed onion. Many other recipes, including the two mentioned above, start with sauteeing finely diced onion with diced celery and carrot. The combination of three vegetables sauteed without salt to start a sauce is often referred to as “the holy trinity”. You can use the holy trinity for this sauce, too.
True to Tuscan cooking tradition, there is usually no garlic in a ragù recipe, but I personally add just a small bit. You can also use white wine instead of red, though I prefer the version with red. As I said, the recipe below is my favorite.
The big secret to making the best sauce is to cook it slowly and for a very long time, at least two hours. Vary the ingredients if you will, but you can’t cut corners with the time.
So here goes:
Here’s what it looked like over the homemade pasta at Santa Giulia:
Photo for No Apparent Reason: