One thing that I learned on my recent trip to Emilia Romagna is that every recipe and every dish is personal. Passion exudes from every pore, and never more than when the topic of food or the particulars of a recipe are under discussion. People in Emilia Romagna are very animated over lunch, and they are mainly discussing the food that they are eating, and just that. I love that.
People get particularly excited about homemade tagliatelle with ragu. It originates there, and Emilia has one way, Romagna another. Within those regions different families have their own approach. Bologna has a meaty dense ragu of its own (hence, Bolognese sauce). The personal differences are glorious. I had so many different ragus in trattorias all over the region. Some dense with meat and assertive, one cooked in lard and layered with white pepper (my favourite, I think), some rich and fruity with tomato with the meat appearing to surf it.
I cooked ragu with two people in Emilia Romagna. The first was Anna, a wonderful lady based in Savignano sul Rubicone in Emilia Romagna. Romagna, to be precise, so the ragu here is different to Bologna, which is in Emilia. Anna learned from her mother, a recipe that has been passed down the generations. Anna’s ragu is a rich sauce made from a mixture of minced beef, pork and (Italian) sausage, with soffrito, red wine and passata. The second was Walter, from Lazio, but we cooked in Bologna style. I will share that another time.
Today I am going to share Anna’s ragu recipe with you. She is extraordinarily generous, and gave me her time, as well as her family recipe. She is a joy to watch and to learn from, cooking with love and care, and her ragu is incredibly frugal (as I think a lot of Italian food is).
It will feed 10 people, which is quite striking when you see how little meat is involved. You probably aren’t feeding 10 people, but you know, it tastes great the next day. I love all the little extra steps in Anna’s recipe. Set aside an afternoon and make it, and think of that lovely lady Anna, who took the time to share it with me, so that I could share it with you.
Do make the effort with the homemade pasta, if you can. It makes a huge difference. It is so rewarding, too. There is a link to and Emilia Romagna homemade pasta recipe and instructions in the method below.
Thank you, Anna!
Anna’s Ragu (Romagnola Style)
Best served with tagliatelle, see Casa Artusi post for making homemade pasta - for 10 people approx 10 eggs & 1kg 00 pasta dough – this will make more than you need, but best to have too much! You can always dry it and save it. Italian sausages are dense and meaty, lookout for luganica sausages in delis, or similar.
20 g carrots
20 g celery
20 g onion
1/2 glass of extra virgin olive oil
150g minced pork
150g minced beef
100g pork sausage, removed from the skins
1/3 glass of red wine
2 x 700g jars of passata (blended tomato without the seeds)
(for glass measurements, use a small wine glass)
Finely chop the carrots, celery and onion and sauté in the extra virgin oil over a low to medium heat until tender.
Add the pork, beef and sausage and stir gently over a medium heat until browned.
Season the meat with salt and pepper.
Anna was very sure to stress that the wine should be added gently, down the inside of the pot. With love! And stir it gently.
Add the two jars of passata and season the passata with salt and pepper. Anna stressed that you must season the meat first, then the passata when you add that. Again, be gentle.
Reduce the heat and cover the pot. Allow it to simmer for at least an hour, ideally two and a half hours. The ragu will be finished when there is a film of orange oil at the top and there are bubbles popping through. Like a ragu swamp. In a good way!
Anna had a particular way of serving which I will share with you too. She placed a little sauce on the bottom of a large serving platter then adding the cooked pasta to that, before adding more ragu which she stirred through gently. This ragu is very wet, being rich with tomato, so the pasta soaks it up quickly. So, be sure to prepare it like this only immediately before serving it. Serve with parmesan on top. In Anna’s home, the parmesan was served grated in a bowl and everyone helped themselves.
I travelled to Emilia Romagna as part of the Blogville campaign, created and sponsored by the Emilia Romagna Tourist Board in partnership with iambassador. I maintain full editorial control of the content published, as always.