Butcher's Ragù with Fusilli

After Eataly opened, Food & Wine ran an article with recipes from the Italian emporium. They all enticed me, but the Butcher's Ragù with Fusilli from the pasta and pizza counter really stood out. Even though it was still summer and the warm weather begged for salad and fruit, I liked the sound of its luscious sauce. It was one of the first real meals I cooked after having Leo. Most days back then were kind of bumpy, but on the night I tried it, life with two children felt unusually smooth. The recipe was easy to follow and called for tomato paste in place of canned tomatoes and a cup of white wine instead of red.

Daniel and I expected the recipe to be good, but it was even better than that. I mean, we took some really dramatic bites, savored the velvety sauce that he thinks tastes faintly sweet, and oohed and ahhed a lot. Looking back, I wonder if our amazement had something to do with how tired and overwhelmed we were. In those early months as a family of four, cooking anything felt like an accomplishment. Making a meal this memorable was a major triumph.

We made it for the third time last night and weren't surprised that a sauce so rich and chunky goes well with winter. Packed with pancetta, baked ham and ground beef, it's a stick to your ribs kind of dish. The kind of sauce you want simmering on your stove when the streets outside have turned to ice and you and your kids are battling colds.

Make sure to use fusilli as Mario instructs. We tried it with spaghetti once and realized it needs a shape it can really grab onto and cover with a rich, glossy coating. I think it tastes best right after it's made, piping hot with a messy pile of pecorino. I love leftovers, but this doesn't reheat too well. You're better off just eating it straight from the refrigerator, cold. And one more piece of advice. I don't watch football, but if I did, this is what I'd serve on Superbowl Sunday.

Butcher's Ragù with Fusilli
From Mario Batali via Food & Wine
Serves 8
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
4 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 pound thickly sliced baked ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds fusilli
Freshly grated pecorino, for serving

1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the pancetta and ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until shiny and rust-colored, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the diced ham, milk, white wine and water to the casserole and simmer the ragù over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is thick and saucy, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Season the ragù with salt and pepper.

3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the fusilli, stirring often, until al dente. Drain the fusilli and add it to the sauce. Stir well to coat the pasta. Transfer the pasta to shallow bowls and serve right away, passing grated pecorino at the table.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Hm.....I'm hungry. Should have brought some to work. Can't believe I forgot to! What a great meal.


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