Thursday, March 24, 2011

So clearly my blog is in one of its food phases.  I haven't been doing much of note, aside from cooking a few meals and consuming too much bad TV.  But 'tis the season, I suppose.  So, if you don't mind, here's just another food-entry.

Today I poked about the internet in search of the how-to's on ragù.  Few restaurant-meals have lingered longer in my memory than big round pasta tossed with shredded meat and thick, flavourful red sauce.  I thought it might be time to try my hand at one of my own.  And so, like I do when I cook this kind of peasant food stuff, I Google it and figure out the procedural parts (cooking times and temperatures, the basics) and then just start throwing things in a pot.  

To start, I went searching for a nice hunk of veal shoulder, but Whole Foods didn't have any.  The butcher suggested a one pound piece of beef chuck, which would stew away and soften-up much like a shoulder.  And I wasn't arguing with $7.00 a pound.  And we're off!

Beef Ragù with Maccheroni Rigatini
Serves 2: Heartily

1 pound of cheap meat, your choice
Flour, for dredging
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
A couple Scotch bonnets, depending how hot you like things
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
One large can of peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped, reserve the liquid
1 cup beef stock
1 cup water
Enough pasta for two gluttonous servings
And fresh-grated parmesan.

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil.  Dredge your meat-of-choice in flour and brown on all sides.  Remove the meat and set aside, heat more oil and sautée your vegetables until softened.  Add the wine and vinegar and bring the whole mess to a boil, reducing by half and thickening to a syrupy consistency.  Return the meat to the pot, add the broth and water, the tomatoes and their liquid.  Let this rumble away at a low temperature for a couple of hours, until the meat is very tender.

Remove the beef again and set aside.  Press the liquid through a fine sieve, separating the wine-soaked mirepoix, drawing as much liquid as you can from it.  Rinse your pot and return the silky, smooth liquid to the heat.  Bring to a boil, reduce by half, again thickening.  The sauce will become like a super-rich gravy-tomato sauce hybrid, just the right viscosity, thick enough to coat the pasta, but thin enough that it doesn't feel heavy.  After 8 or 10 minutes, dump the beef (which you've shredded using forks) back into the sauce and incorporate.  Toss with al dente pasta (of your choice, though the maccheroni rigatini we had was perfect) and serve.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, we had seconds.  Dirty-bowl, unphotogenic, sloppy seconds.  We smeared bread on our plates and didn't even break for wine.  We ate and ate and ate.  

A NOTE ON THE WINE Tilia, a 2009 Argentinean Malbec.  Fruity and rich.  $12.95, LCBO.  Yum.


  1. It's only 8:30am and I want to bury my face in that! great shots Mr.H.

  2. You glutton with your heavy meat dishes.
    Of course, it looks and reads fantastic.

  3. Great photos, J. Srsly. (seriously)

  4. oh my, this looks so good. gonna try it! thank you for the recipe!

  5. Fabulously Tuscan, Jason. I'm so proud!

  6. Love your photographs. They're beautiful.
    Feel like I can smell the food.

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