Tagliatelle con Ragù alla Bolognese
Region: Italy, Emilia-Romagna
Category: Pasta with Beef
Difficulty: Labor Intensive
The famous ragù that accompanies tagliatelle is often bastardized by what I call international hotel cooking. I have eaten horrible to adequate Bolognese sauces in as disparate places as a train station in Lübeck, Germany, and a hotel in Luxor, Egypt. Nowhere but Bologna, its home, can you find its flavor so inviting and its taste so rich. This recipe is one of the richest enhancements of the classic ragù from Bologna, which was once much simpler. The meats need to be lean, otherwise there will be too much fat in the sauce. The meat can be ground in a food processor using very short bursts or pulses, resulting in a very finely chopped effect. Remember that "very finely chopped" means pieces no bigger than this "o," so you may consider using the food processor for all the ingredients, again, using short bursts. For readers who want to learn more about this dish see Lynn Rosetta Kaspar's The Splendid Table.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Preparation Time: 2:45 hours
1. In a large, heavy skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-heat and cook the pancetta, prosciutto, and mortadella until the pancetta is soft and a bit rendered, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and parsley and cook until the vegetables have softened and turned color, about 10 minutes, stirring as needed. Add the beef, pork, veal, and chicken livers and brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine. Once the wine has evaporated, reduce the heat to low add the tomato sauce diluted with a little water and the beef broth. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cover and simmer for 2 hours. Add the cream and cook another 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, salt abundantly, and add the pasta. Drain when al dente and transfer to a serving platter. Ladle the ragù on top and serve immediately. The ragù can be frozen for up to 4 months.
Note: Note 1: To make a quick tomato sauce, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet, then cook 2 pounds of crushed fresh or canned peeled and seeded tomatoes and some finely chopped garlic until dense over medium heat.
Note 2: A simpler method is to cook the onion with the celery and carrot in the oil and butter, adding the ground beef, but not the other meats, the wine, salt and pepper, nutmeg and 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce. Follow the recipe above, eliminating all the ingredients except those called for in this note.