A great Italian ragu has depth of flavors, is rich and complex, and would not need a ton of parmigiano cheese to compliment its lack of taste. I have been trying to find a great recipe to meet all these criteria. And finally I found one...
Massimo Bottura, of Osteria Francescana wasn't the source I was expecting to get it from though. Well known for revolutionizing Italian cuisine and putting a very modern touch in his creations, I wasn't expecting to find such a traditional recipe. Yes, it is using Sous Vide as a cooking method, but it is still very old school - and it is very delicious. Here is my adaptation from the book "Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef".
Start with making the cherry tomato confit. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Place tomatoes in baking dish and pour oil over the tomatoes, crush the garlic and add the cloves, and finally add the 4 sprigs of rosemary. Season with salt and pepper.
Let it bake for 3 hours.
After three hours take out the tomatoes and let it cool. Discard garlic and rosemary. Chop tomatoes and set aside for later. The room will be filled by a divine aroma that hints of Italy.
Make a classic soffritto by cooking the onions, carrots and celery very gently in olive oil. Add rosemary and bay leaves. When done, discard herbs and set aside.
Prepare the meats. Trim beef or veal tongue and dice meat into large chunks. Remove all the gray outer parts of the tongue. Trim fat of the oxtail and veal shanks. Chop the pancetta into small chunks.
Blanch the bone marrow in salted boiling water and drain it on kitchen paper to absorb excess liquid. Sweat pancetta in a large sauce pan. Add sausage meat and cook until browned. Add the wine and cook until liquid has evaporated. Add cherry tomato config and cook another 2 minutes. Set aside.
Brown the oxtail, tongue and veal shanks in separate batches. Heat the chicken stock.
Put the oxtail, tongue and shanks in three different sous vide bags. Add a third of the bone marrow, chicken stock, soffritto and sausage meat/pancetta/ cherry tomato confit mix to each bag.
Cook for 24 hours at 145 F (63 C). Open the bags and separate the liquid. Place liquid in pan and reduce by half over low heat. Skim off excess fat.
Chop the meat with a sharp knife and mix in a large sauce pan. Add the reduced liquid and let is simmer for 10 minutes.
While the ragu is simmering, cook the tagliatelle in some chicken stock. Rinse carefully, making sure that the pasta is dry. Finish cooking the tagliatelle in the ragu until it has absorbed all the liquid. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve without parmigiano cheese. This dish is best as a stand-alone, no additions needed. The different meats gives this dish a culinary layering which is both rich and rewarding. It has a hint of the fat from the marrow, the cherry tomato confit gives it a sweetness and sharpness that balances very well with the boldness of the tongue, oxtail and shanks. It is a great dish for early spring or late fall when you want something rich and filling, after a long walk in the cold. Enjoy with a glass of Toscany wine - in my case, Tre from Brancaia.
Cooking at home
In this section you will find recipes and food experiments that I have tried at home. Some successfully.
Cooking at home