Friday, December 09, 2005

Raffaella’s Ragu’ (Meat Sauce) #1

Raffaella has two primary meat sauces. They are both in the tradition of the Bolognese. We often discuss the pros and cons of our sauces but the sauce she prepares is really fantastic. If you are using a short pasta such as Farfalle (Bowties) or Penne this ragu’ is a concentration of flavor that just gets on the pasta and will not let go.


1 lb Ground Beef
1 medium Onion - diced
1 clove of Garlic
20 grams of Butter (about 1 ½ Tablespoons)
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
a shot of dry white wine
1 Tablespoon of Flour
1 palm of coarse Sea Salt – additional as needed after a few hours of cooking
Just enough Ground Pepper
1 28 oz. Can of Tomatoes – Preferably San Marzano
Hot Water


Mash the tomatoes in a mixing bowl, creating a uniform sauce.

In a heavy bottomed medium pot with high sides, heat the oil and butter on medium heat. When hot and completed dissolved add the onion. Let the onion sauté until transparent, without allowing them to gain too much color. Add the meat, stirring often with a wooden spoon until the meat releases all of its liquid. Reduce on medium heat until the liquid is almost entirely evaporated.

Sprinkle the flour into the mixture, stir for 30 seconds, and add the white wine. Reduce again until the wine has completely evaporated. This will happen very quickly. Before the meat dries add the tomatoes previously mashed.

Fill the tomato can ¾ full with hot water. Add the water to meat, salt pepper and the clove of garlic.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.

Very important: The ragu’ must simmer and nothing more for the entire time it is cooking.

Continue on very low heat for about 6 hours, stirring occasionally. After 4 hours the sauce can be tasted, seasoned to taste and the garlic removed. Continue cooking for the remaining 2 hours on very low heat.

This sauce has no limit for the amount of time it can simmer. The longer it cooks the more intense the flavor. The final result should be a dense sauce, without any liquid.

Ragu’ is always better the day after so prepare at least one day before you want to use it. Raffaella always makes about 4 times the amount she needs for any dish. The remaining ragu’ can be kept in the fridge for about a week or divided into portions and frozen.


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