Tuscan Ragu (Sugo di Carne)
As I’m getting ready for next year’s Cucina Italy Experience, I keep thinking back to the amazing time we had last year in Tuscany! The people, the food, the experiences…All of it a wonderful memory and I can’t wait to go back and show people another gorgeous region of my beloved Italy! In the meantime, I’ll cook my way through the recipes we picked up along the way last year! Including this one from Fattoria Il Poggio for their beautiful Tuscan style ragu, or Sugo di Carne!
Ragu, or meat sauce, was once reserved for special occasions, because, well, meat was reserved for special ocassions! According to the Fattoria’s book, a woman’s worth was judged by her ability to cook this special dish! (Yikes!) Thankfully, these days, meat is much more common and all the housewives and working women (and men!) can just make their food because they like it and not be judged too harshly!
This dish, while simple, does take time, so there is still some sense of it being reserved for special occasions, like Sunday dinner, or having company over. But the good news is, it feeds a lot of people! So you will likely have leftovers! I used about half of the sauce to cover just under a pound of pasta and I stashed my extra in a container in the freezer to use for another time! This way when it’s a Wednesday night and you don’t feel like cooking, you can pull out your delicious, already made sauce, boil some water and get an incredible meal on the table in 30 minutes! I love when things pull double duty!
Not only will this ragu cover a lot of ground, it’s loaded with fresh veggies, herbs, and olive oil; true to the Mediterranean Diet! So while many people consider pasta a “bad for you” food, I look at it as the perfect vehicle to get veggies in! And if you’re using a high quality pasta like the one I had in the video (you can buy it here), it’s a significantly different product than the white, processed wheat ,stuff found at the grocery store. As always, the beauty of cooking at home is YOU get to control the ingredients, and when food is simple, high quality ingredients are worth every penny!
Tuscan Ragu (Sugo di Carne)
1lb. ground beef
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 sprigs of basil chopped
6 tomatoes, skinned and chopped*
1 cup red wine
1/4 c. dried porcini mushrooms, soaked, mushrooms and soaking liquid
4 Tbs. olive oil
salt & pepper
*To peel tomatoes, cut a small X on one end, briefly blanch them in boiling water until the skin starts to peel back. Remove from water and when cool enough to touch, peel and chop.
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and beef, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.
Once meat is in small pieces, add onion, celery and carrots. Season with salt and allow to cook for 10 minutes.
Add in wine and continue cooking for 15 minutes.
Add in tomatoes. Pour the liquid from the mushrooms through a strainer and into the sauce. Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pot. Add basil. Cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Serve over al dente pasta like this one from Minardo.