This is a special recipe.
You know what I mean. The kind of recipe that only gets made for special occasions. It takes the whole day and makes your house smell like a five star restaurant. A meal that you plan ahead for and anticipate for days, telling your family over and over to be ready, because they won’t want to miss out on this one fabulous meal.
That is what kind of recipe this is.
I had the opportunity once to spend some time in Italy, and of course what I remember most is the incredible food. The beauty of Italian cuisine is that it is not about ridiculous, complicated recipes. The focus is on gorgeous ingredients, treated with love. To me, treating ingredients with care and respect is one of the most important parts of being an excellent chef. That goes for all ingredients; from the lowly celery to a gorgeous piece of steak or seafood. When you love your food it loves you back. I promise, you can taste the difference.
Showing your product love and respect starts with picking quality ingredients. There are lots of ways to save money in the kitchen. Choosing bad produce or low quality cheese or wine is not the way to go. Next, it means careful knife work, making sure your cuts are even so each piece is exactly the same size. This makes sure every bit is cooked just right, nothing under or over done. It also means not cutting corners. Do not buy pre-cut onions or steak at the store. You have no control over the quality or freshness. Take your time and give the food the love it so desperately wants.
Of course, this also means making your own fresh, beautiful pasta. Fresh pasta cannot be replicated or replaced by dry store bought pasta. It is one of the most heavenly things a kitchen can create, and it is absolutely worth the extra time. Once you get used to making it, you won’t even notice the extra minutes. This pasta is hand cut to make thick, luscious tagliatelle noodles. If you have never made your own pasta, buy a roller, and learn. Your life will never be the same.
Finally, be willing to take your time when cooking. Some recipes take a while and benefit from sitting on your stove all day. Those recipes are often the best of them all, and the extra time is definitely worth it.
I know, we’re all busy. But sometimes you just gotta drop everything else and make Ragu Bolognese and pretend you are back in the Italian countryside.
- olive oil
- 4 oz pancetta, diced
- 1 yellow/brown onion, diced
- 4 stalks celery, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
- 1.5 lbs skirt steak, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 8 oz ground pork
- 1 cup dry white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)(I am also generous with my cup.)
- 3 T double concentrated tomato paste
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1.5 cups whole milk
- 2 small parmesan rinds
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 batch fresh pasta, cut into wide tagliatelle noodles
- fresh grated parmesan, to serve
Start by preparing your mise en place, which translates to “things in place”. Literally, get your ingredients ready so that when you need them you aren’t scrambling. So the first thing we do is cut up our ingredients and make sure everything is ready to go!
Again, take your time to cut everything to be the same size, especially the steak. The more consistent your cuts are on the meat, the better this dish will be. Trust me. Love your food, and it will love you back.
Now it is time to cook!
First, rehydrate the mushrooms. cover the mushrooms with about 1 cup of boiling water. Let sit for at least fifteen minutes, then remove the mushrooms from the water and dice. Reserve the water.
Now we start cooking! He 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced pancetta. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until the pancetta releases its fat and begins to brown.
Add the celery, carrots, and onions. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, as the veggies begin to soften.
Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is cooked out and the veggies are very soft.
Remove the veggies from the pan and put in a separate bowl. Put the same pan back on the heat, increase to medium high, and add about two tablespoons olive oil. (Do NOT wash the pan in between!) When the oil is hot, add the chopped steak, along with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until browned on all sides and then remove from heat onto a plate using a slotted spoon.
Into the same pan, add your ground pork and cook until the pork is browned.
Turn heat back to medium. Put your sage, thyme, and bay leaf into cheesecloth and tie off with kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni. Add the veggies, steak, and the bouquet garni back to the pan and let cook for about 8 minutes, or until the liquid is cooked down. Add the wine, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan.
Let this cook down for about 15 minutes, until the wine is cooked off. The pot should turn a gorgeous, shiny color at this point.
Add the tomato paste. Let cook for about five more minutes.
It should be starting to look very, very pretty.
Add 1.5 cups of stock and 1/2 cup milk. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
Finally, add the rest of the milk and stock, the parmesan rinds, nutmeg, and a touch of salt. Let simmer for about 1.5 hours, skimming the fat from the surface occasionally. You may want to lower the heat. Sauce should thicken and become velvety and rich.
This sauce can be made a day or two ahead of time, and only becomes better with age.
When ready to serve, reheat if necessary, and toss with hand cut fresh tagliatelle noodles. (Please don’t waste this sauce on dry pasta, I beg you!)
Top with fresh grated parmesan.
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