Monday, August 30, 2010

Sunday Sauce - Ragu Antica

Growing up, Sunday night in our household was not only family dinner night, but pasta night. And until my sister and I got older and busier with high school sports schedules and other activities, we usually made homemade pasta with my dad. I don't usually make pasta on Sunday nights now, but for some reason it just sounded perfect last night.

I found this recipe in the New York Times, adapted from Osteria Morini in New York which is set to open next month on Lafayette Street in Soho. So here's my adaptation on their adaptation. You can find the NYT's original recipe here.

Time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced celery
2 tablespoons tomato paste
One 28-ounce cans Italian diced or chopped tomatoes, with their juice
Sea salt and black pepper
1/3 lb. ground beef
1/3 lb. ground pork
1/3 lb. ground veal
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig sage
1 bay leaf
Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, about 2 by 2 inches, optional
1/2 pound garganelli or other tube-shaped pasta.

1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and any juice from the can. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and reduce heat to low.

2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, pork, and veal, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, breaking the pieces with a wooden spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, about 7 minutes.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the sauce. Add rosemary, sage, bay leaf and Parmigiano rind, if using. Cover, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Discard rosemary, sage, bay leaf and cheese rind. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

4. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water until al dente (about 2 minutes for fresh pasta, or follow manufacturer’s directions for dried), then drain well. Divide the pasta among four plates or bowls, and top with rag├╣.

I've never added Parmigiano-Reggiano rind to a sauce before, and I have to say it made a pretty big difference. By letting the rind cook in the sauce for about an hour and a half it got a bit melty, and released a great salty flavor into the sauce. But it wasn't just a salty flavor, it was more complex...and then I didn't have to add as much salt. This dish was very easy to make, it does say you need 2 1/2 hours but a majority of that is just letting the sauce cook. I used tagliatelle because I had it on hand, but next time I'll use a tube-shaped pasta because ragu sauces are easier to eat with rigatoni, penne, or something similar. Yum!


  1. Do you think I could get Elizabeth to start Sunday pasta night here in Boston?

  2. that is a fantastic idea! you should definitely make her do it.