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Quick trip to Bologna

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We’re on the subject of pasta this week and I want to share with you a recipe I made during my culinary classes in Florence, Italy. Specifically, Ragu Bolognese.

This is a traditional Italian meat sauce with tomatoes and, to add richness, some heavy cream.

I have some fond memories of my classes in Italy. The instructors were wonderful. Patient with their expectations and thorough in their explanations. They harbor a deep reverence for the Italian discipline to food.

A Ragu is a sauce of meat and vegetables cooked in a liquid. Preparing a good Ragu involves browning the meats and vegetables to achieve a deep flavor of the carmelization of their sugars. Following the browning we have a reduction of liquids to concentrate flavors and finally the Ragu is simmered to mellowing and give tenderness to the meats.In this recipe I call for crushed San Marzano tomatoes.

When I made this recently I could only find whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes. So, what can be done is pulse the contents of the can in a food processor or use an immersion blender to puree the whole tomatoes in their sauce.

There are many types of Ragu sauces. Such as chicken or game, veal, giblets and marsala. Today’s recipe is from Bologna, thus Bolognese.

Ragu Bolognese, Serves 6 2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil1 lb ground sirloin, (or ground skirt steak)3 cloves garlic, crushed1/2 med onion, small dice1 carrot, small dice1 stalk celery, small dice2 Tbl tomato paste1 tsp dried oregano3/4 cup red wine1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, (San Marzano)3/4 cup beef stock

1/2 cup heavy cream Salt and fresh ground black pepper1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese for garnish

In large sauté pan brown the meat. Drain and set aside. Heat the olive oil and brown the onion, carrot and celery adding the garlic for the last 2 minutes only. Do not brown the garlic. Add the meat back to the pan along with the tomato paste, oregano and wine, simmer for 3 top 4 minutes reducing the liquid. Add the stock, simmer for 4 to 5 minutes again reducing the liquid. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring back to a simmer. Grind in about 1/2 tsp black pepper and adjust salt to taste. Last, remove from heat and stir in cream.

Cook one pound of your favorite pasta as a base for this beautiful, tasty sauce.

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