To make a good Italian Ragù you need from 3 to 4 hours. I’m sorry.
It consists in tomato sauce, or if you want a less red sauce, only half tube of tomato paste.
- 2 bottles of thick tomato sauce (750 gr each – 1 lb+10oz);
- 500 gr (1 lb+2oz) of ground meat (veal, beef, pork),
- 1 little pork salame,
- 1 large white onion,
- 2 carrots,
- 1 stalk green celery,
- salt or 1 stock cube,
- a glass of dry white wine,
- extra virgin olive oil,
- 2 tsp of sugar.
First of all, the secret for a good Ragù is the “soffritto” (sautée) that must be in the right quantity, not less, not more. Peel the carrots , the celery and the large onion and, using a food processor, finely grind them.
01. In a large, non stick pot, put abundant oil and pour the grinded vegetables over low heat until they turn gold. Be sure not to burn them and the onion not to turn brown. If it is the case, throw it away and start again. Otherwise, you will have a bitter aftertaste spoiling all the sauce.
02. With a fork, crumble the ground meat and add it in the pot. Peel the salami and add to the pot after crumbling. Brown the meat and pay attention in no cooking or burning it: it shall be soft and light brown, but not hard as a roast. Let it combine with the vegetables and cook lightly. When it is light brown, raise heat and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine, let it dry and reduce again heat.
03. Add tomato sauce. Pour both bottle in the pot, then fill them of water – as you would wash away the remaining sauce inside – and pour the water in the pot. Add 2 tsp of sugar. They will balance the tartness of tomatoes. Stir your sauce well but gently and let it cook. Cover the pot putting a wooden spoon between the cover and the pot in order to let it a bit open. Reduce heat and cook for 3 hours. Add a few water if needed.
In order to have a good ragù, you should cook it a lot. It must be stirred every 10 minutes and not forgotten on heat, but generally it doesn’t request a lot. You can prepare it during dinner, or while watching a good movie on TV. Only be sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, to avoid it takes a unpleasant taste of burnt. Be also sure it cook very well and very slowly.
05. Add salt or 2 stock cubes at the end of cooking, at your taste. Take in mind that cooking for 3 hours will make it salty.
Ragù cooked in less time will be more liquid and vivid red (like that in the picture, cooked fastly). Ragù long cooked will have a darker colour, will be thicker, and perfect for lasagna or pies because it will give a stronger taste.
In some regional versions, garlic, red wine, laurel or meat balls can be used. Nevertheless, this is my favourite one: easy to make but rich in taste. Cooked in a very simple way, but with lots of care and patience.
In Bologna they use lard instead of oil, red instead of white wine, and at the end, they add a dab of butter or milk.