Inspired by my recent trip to Italy I set out to recreate a lunch that I had been served by a wonderful home cook. After a month of dining on incredible food, this meal was right at the top of my list. It couldn’t have been simpler and yet it was just perfect-a bowl of handmade noodles sauced with a meat ragu. The first bite of the incredibly light pasta bite brought me right back to my grandmother’s table. I savored each and every bite and willingly helped myself to seconds, even though I knew there was a chicken dish yet to come.
Back at home I knew this was a meal that I had to make for dinner. Since I’ve been eager to practice my pasta skills, I whipped up a batch of dough and after using the pasta machine to roll it out, I cut the pasta into wide noodles by hand. For the sauce I made a classic Bolognese. I’m not one to brag, but it was pretty darn good and was quite close to that lunch on the farm.
If you don’t feel up to making your own pasta, just make sure that you get a good brand of Italian dried pasta. This sauce (which can be made a day ahead and gently reheated) is perfect served with pappardelle.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium carrot,finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1/4 pound pancetta, cut into quarters
- 1 lb. ground veal
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Heat oil and butter in a wide 6-8 quart heavy pot over medium heat until the butter is melted, then cook the carrot, onion, celery and garlic, stirring occasionally until tender but not browned, about 10-15 minutes.
While vegetables cook, pulse the pancetta in a food processor (I use a mini-prep) until finely chopped.
When vegetables are tender, increase the heat to high and stir in veal, pork and pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up any lumps, until the meat is starting to brown, 10-15 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, milk, and wine and gently simmer, uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, until almost all liquid has evaporated but ragu is still moist, 1-1/2 hours. Stir in salt and pepper and remove from heat, toss with pasta and serve.