Last night was a tricky night for meals here. We were in and out with sport from 3:30 in the afternoon until about 8:30 at night. What could I prepare that would be easy to eat in the shifts that we would all appear home?
I know a Ragu!!
So what is a Ragu you ask? In America they have a brand of pasta sauce called Ragu - here we have one called Raguletto - so you are kind of on the right path.
Ragu is actually an Italian term for a meat based sauce that is usually served with pasta. It is traditionally made by adding meat to a "Soffritto" (a partially fried mixture of chopped onions, celery, carrots and seasonings), tomatoes are then added, and it is left to simmer away for several hours. Perfect!!
So here is how I made my Ragu last night.
Beef Ragu with Rag Pasta
2 medium onions, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
3 cloves crushed garlic
100g pancetta, diced
1.5kg gravy beef, diced
2 x 400g tins of Italian cherry tomatoes *
2 cups of red wine
4 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs sage
500g fresh pasta sheets
parmesan cheese to serve
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (fan forced).
Pour a small amount of olive oil over the base of a heavy based oven proof casserole dish, heat over medium high heat. Add the meat in batches, and brown very well. Browning the meat well adds extra depth of flavour to your sauce. Make sure you don't crowd the pan, as this will lead to "stewing" the meat as opposed to browning it! Don't worry too much about any "caramelised" bits on the bottom. Place the browned meat in a bowl. I read a good tip recently that said if your meat sticks to the bottom of the pan while you are doing this, simply leave for another minute or so, it's not ready yet - the pan will "release" it when it is done!! Worked well yesterday!
In a small amount of olive lightly fry the pancetta, onions, celery, carrot, onions, and garlic until just soft. The liquid released from the vegetables will help lift the "caramelised" meat bits off the bottom of the pan, so scrape the base of the pan as you stir the vegetables.
* If you can't find these, regular chopped tomatoes are fine!
Once the vegetables are softened, add the meat back into the pan. Add the red wine, cherry tomatoes, rosemary, and sage. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Bring to the boil. Cover, and place the casserole dish in the oven. Bake covered for 3 hours. After 3 hours, remove the lid, and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
Just prior to serving check for seasonings. At this time gently, with the back of a spoon, crush the meat, so that it breaks into very small pieces.
Now to make the Rag Pasta, all you do is tear pasta sheets into shreds. Do not worry too much about the shapes - the more rustic the better.
Place the pasta into boiling salted water, and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the pasta is "al dente".
Place the pasta in a serving bowl, top with the ragu. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.
You cannot really overcook this meal - so if you need to go out for 3 hours - it will gently simmer away in the oven and smell wonderful when you return home.
So much better than regular old bolognaise sauce, and if the truth be know - easier to make too!!