Ragu di Carne (Tuscan Meat Sauce)

>> Saturday, October 1, 2011

Joe opening a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino wine
We spent part of our honeymoon in a lovely isolated villa in the tiny Tuscan town of Creti. Our hosts owned a thriving agriturismo, which is a working farm as well as a sort of Bed-and-Breakfast inn. Creti is close to the town of Cortona which was made popular by the novel "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Francis Mayes. This photo is of our villa at Rosa dei Venti. We recommend this place highly to anyone who wants to stay in an authentic Italian villa but be close enough to all the major attractions of Tuscany.

Angela is in the orange sweater
We signed up for cooking classes on our last afternoon in Tuscany, but came back late from a wine-tasting in nearby Montepulciano due to a lack of Italian road signs and Angela's difficulties with reading a map. The rest of the guests, from New Zealand, Belgium, and Poland, were already cooking the dinner we would share that night. Even though we kept explaining that Angela was the photographer and Joe was the cook, they addressed all the cooking comments to Angela. Nonetheless, we learned an amazing, hearty recipe for pasta sauce that we often make in the fall and winter.

We have converted as closely as possible from metric to American weights and measures.

3 large finely chopped carrots
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup marjoram, chopped
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
2 chicken livers
2 rabbit livers (the agriturismo farm raised rabbits and served a stewed rabbit dish as a main course ("secondi piatti"); if you're not serving rabbit or can't find rabbit livers, substitute 2 additional chicken livers)
8 large plum tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
  1. Saute vegetables and herbs in olive oil.
  2. Stir in beef and pork and cook until brown and crumbly.
  3. Cut the membranes from the livers and finely dice them.
  4. Add liver to meat mixture and cook until foamy, about 30 minutes.
  5. Pour in wine and simmer 10 minutes.
  6. Puree tomatoes and add to ragu. Simmer for one hour.
Serve over a hearty pasta such as rotini or farfalle and a big Tuscan Red wine such as a Barolo or Brunello.
Serves 4-6.


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