Thanks to Marcella

I have reached the point in my cold where I feel that stuffing a Kleenex up my nose and duct taping it in place is a viable option.  I’m feeling cranky and irritable and did I forget to mention?  Snotty.  This week, I convinced myself that I needed to decontaminate the crime scene and deep clean our house.  And while I was at it, I decided to make Marcella Hazan’s Ragu Bolognese Style Meat Sauce for the first time, for our family dinner.

Now before you think that I took an extra shot of Dayquil, I want you to understand that Marcella’s ragu requires 3 ½ to 5 hours to burble at the laziest simmer on your stovetop.  So, as I scrubbed the house, I would pause every so often and go stir the sauce.  And as the sauce tightened up, it perfumed the entire house.

When My Kid arrived for dinner, I tossed the fresh tagiatelle noodles (store bought) into the boiling water and dinner was served in five minutes. I dressed the noodles with sauce and spun them into tidy mounds in the bottom of our bowls.   And I served crostini and a romaine and arugula salad with April Bloomfield's Lemon Caper Dressing. And the bright acidic dressing on the salad contrasted brilliantly with the forkfuls of the Ragu dressed pasta.  The Ragu sauce tasted round and like love itself.  My guys closed their eyes and ate every morsel even though I over-served them. And we sat for a moment silently enjoying the stupor of our food coma before we delved into a lively conversation on education.    

And while my nose is still running, channeling my inner Italian Grandmother was just what I needed.  Taking simple humble ingredients and transmuting them into a fantastic meal to share with my favorite people is what cooking is all about.  I doubled the recipe so we have leftovers and I’m taking tomorrow night off from cooking.  Life is good.  

Ragu Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style
The Classic Italian Cookbook By Marcella Hazan

Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped carrot
¾ pound ground lean beef, preferably chuck
1 cup dry white wine—I used Columbia Crest Sauvignon Blanc
½ cup milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped, with their juices

In a Dutch oven heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until it is translucent.  Then add the celery and carrot and cook for two minutes. 

Add the ground beef, and crumble it with a fork as it cooks.  Add 1 teaspoon of salt and cook until the meat is not longer red. 

Turn up the heat to medium high and add the wine.  Cook until the wine is evaporated.

Add the milk and nutmeg and turn the heat back down to medium.  Stir frequently.  Cook until the milk is evaporated. 

Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Then drop the heat down until it simmers very lazily.  I cooked mine on low.  Cook like this for 3 ½ to 4 hours, but 5 hours is best.  Stir every so often.  And taste.  Correct seasonings.  And serve.

Ragu freezes well.