Suitable for freezing
I always thought that the meat sauce is one of the cornerstones of Italian cooking and that it deserves a bit of presentation before we get to the point in terms of preparing it. So, here we go!
Italy is divided into 20 regions and almost each one has a very distinct cooking tradition. Hence, I am not surprised that these differences have influenced the way Italians prepare the meat sauce and this is why we have different varieties of it (sometimes the recipe can also vary from town to town within the same province!).
Two of these varieties are the well known Bolognese meat sauce (ragù alla bolognese) and Neapolitan meat sauce (ragù alla napoletana) .
I really believe that simplicity is the key factor of successful cooking and here I am proposing a recipe for the ragù, which is personally the one I like best (it is Mamma’s ragù). This recipe is quite common in North Italy and I have simplified it to suit those whoe are attempting this recipe for the first time.
Once you have tried this simple version, then you can master the technique and try something a bit more adventurous, like the ragù alla bolognese 1 and 2 recipes featured in the meat section of the website.
The ingredients listed are for 500 g (1 pound 2 ounces ) minced beef. This quantity is enough for topping pasta and serving 4-5 persons.
Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):
Nutrition facts: Calories 650 per serving.
Ingredients (U.S. measurements):
Note: some people add a couple of bay leaves, others add sage leaves or a sprig of rosemary. These herbs have a strong flavour which covers the real taste of the meat, hence I definitely do not recommend them. For those brave enough I would suggest experimenting with the above mentioned herbs, do so after the meat sauce has simmered for 1 hour and transfer a small amount into a small saucepan and try adding the herbs to this. If you do not like the taste you still have a lovely pot of ragù.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan. Add the finely chopped shallots and sweat over a medium heat for about 3 minutes until they are soft.
Add the carrots and celery together and stir for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the meat, stir with a wooden spoon and fork the meat down in order to break it up. Keep stirring untill the meat is browned.
Add the stock cube and stir untill the stock cube has dissolved. The clove of garlic can also be added at this time. However, if you prefer a very light garlic flavour, add the garlic for the last hour of simmering.
When the stock cube is dissolved, add the tomato purèe (do not use sieved or tinned tomato in this recipe).
Then add all the wine and stir gently until it has evaporated (it will take a couple of minutes).
Finally, add enough boiled water to cover the sauce. For this recipe I used about 400 ml (1 3/4 cups).
Now reduce the heat to the minimum, cover with a lid and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
After 1 hour of simmering, remove the lid and continue simmering for another couple of hours, until the sauce is reduced to the right consistency (having completed the third hour, the sauce should have lost most of the water and should be ready to top the pasta).
Half an hour before the end, season with salt according to taste. I suggest to do the seasoning at this late stage when the sauce has lost most of the water.
Remember, that you can also put part of the sauce in the freezer to use the first time you are in a rush!
Federico Pezzaioli is an ex-badass Italian Paratrooper on a mission - to make creating delicious authentic Italian food really easy. He researches, writes and photographs each recipe with the same attention to detail he used to apply to packing his parachute.
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