Archive for the ‘Giorgio Locatelli’ Category

Perfect Ragu (Giorgio Locatelli)

November 25, 2011

Ragù — traditional meat sauce — is best with fresh egg pasta, especially tagliatelle or pappardelle, but not with spaghetti, which is too thin to hold the chunks of meat.

You can also serve it with short pasta, such as penne or farfalle; in fact, when the meat is minced (as in the case of beef and pork), it works better with these pastas, and also with fusilli. When you make ragù with wild boar or game, which is cooked on the bone to retain the flavour, and then baked, the meat has a different consistency which will coat long pasta, such as pappardelle or tagliatelle, better. Sometimes, too, we use ragù as a filling for ravioli.

Each region of Italy has its favourite ragù; sometimes you will even find a mixture of veal, pork and beef all in one sauce. In Toscana, where my sous chef Federico comes from, they like to add chicken liver to pork or beef ragù. At Locanda we vary the ragù according to the season: so sometimes it might be venison or kid (baby goat) — which we get just after Christmas.

We make ragù with baby goat in a similar way to wild boar but we don’t marinate the meat first. At other times it might be hare, pork, veal or lamb. The beauty of making it at home is that you can cook up a big quantity, then divide it into portions and freeze it, ready to heat through when you want it.

Cook the pasta, reserving the cooking water, as usual, then toss the pasta in the pan of ragù, adding a little of the cooking water if necessary to help the sauce cling to the pasta. Stir in a couple of knobs of butter, and if you like, add some grated pecorino or Parmesan.

Sometimes I make a very quick and simple sausage and tomato ragù, which the kids love. I chop up some good pork sausages, sauté them in a pan with some garlic cloves — no onions — add a tin of good tomatoes and maybe some chopped fresh ones, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes until it is good and thick.

Because it makes sense to make ragù in large quantities, I have broken with the pattern of the rest of the book and given recipes that should make enough to feed eight people, or four for two different meals. If you only want to make enough for four at one sitting, just reduce the quantities.

Ragù alla bolognese

Makes enough for 8

  • 2kg minced beef, preferably neck
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • sprig of rosemary and sprig of sage, tied together for a bouquet garni
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 litre tomato passata
  • salt and pepper

To serve:

  • pasta, preferably pappardelle (page 338), tagliatelle or short pasta
  • freshly grated pecorino cheese

In the restaurant we cook this in the oven in big pans at about 120 deg C, gas 1-2, so it just simmers, for about the same length of time as if you cooked it on the stove — if you have a big enough oven and big enough pans, you can do the same.

Take the meat out of the fridge and lay it on a tray and let it come to room temperature, so that it will sear, rather than ‘boil’ when it goes into the pan.

Heat the oil in a wide-bottomed saucepan, add the vegetables, herbs and whole garlic cloves, and sweat over a high heat for 5—8 minutes without allowing it to colour (you will need to keep stirring).

Season the meat with salt and pepper and add to the pan of vegetables, making sure that the meat is covering the base of the pan. Leave for about 5—6 minutes, so that the meat seals underneath and heats through completely, before you start stirring (otherwise it will ooze protein and liquid and it will ‘boil’ rather than sear). Take care, though, that the vegetables don’t burn — add a little more oil, if necessary, to stop this happening.

Stir the meat and vegetables every few minutes for about 10—12 minutes, until the meat starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. At this point, the meat is ready to take the wine.

Add the wine and let it reduce right down to virtually nothing, then add the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time.

Add the passata with 1 litre of water. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 1.5 hours, adding a little extra water if necessary from time to time, until you have a thick sauce.

When you are ready to serve the ragù, put it back into a pan and heat through. Cook your pasta (preferably pappardelle, tagliatelle or short pasta) and drain, reserving the cooking water. Add the pasta to the ragù and toss well, adding some of the cooking water, if necessary, to loosen the sauce. Serve with freshly grated pecorino.