Tagliatelle Ragu

By Friday, February 01, 2013

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed watching Italy Unpacked, a three part series on BBC 2. It follows Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli as they travel around Italy exploring its history, culture, art, and food. The first episode was my favourite, with Giorgio explaining how spaghetti bolognese as we know it today is actually far from how the traditional dish is supposed to be made. He demonstrated how to make a much more traditional alternative, which was pasta ragu. Essentially this is a refined version of a bolognese, but which in my opinion is a lot more flavoursome. It only has a very small amount of tomato in it, unlike a bolognese, which allows the beef, vegetables and stock to flavour the sauce without being overwhelmed by tomato. There was no recipe provided, so I decided to try and make my own version.  The slow cooking enables the ingredients to gradually soften and release their flavours, so I tried to keep the use of herbs to a minimum and only added bay leaves. Despite this being relatively simple to make, it is extremely rewarding to taste. 

You will need:

2 red onions, finely diced
3 celery sticks, finely diced
4 carrots, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
500g minced beef
1 litre chicken stock, warmed
2 tbsp tinned chopped tomatoes
dried tagliatelle pasta
2 bay leaves

Begin by melting a knob of butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Add in all of the diced vegetables and season well. Gently fry for around 10 minutes, until they have softened. 

Add the beef and fry for 5 minuted or so until cooked through. 

Add the stock and chopped tomatoes to the pan with the bay leaves. Season once more and lower the heat to a simmer. 

 Leave to gently cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the ragu mixture has reduced and thickened. Add the tagliatelle to a pan of  salted water and cook according to its packet instructions.  

Drain the pasta and spoon into the bowls. Cover with a generous portion of the ragu. Season and add grated parmesan. Enjoy!

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