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Making Tagliatelle with Ragu with Anna – an Emilia Romagna Recipe

Serving up the ragu! Anna, on the left.

Serving up the ragu. Anna, on the left.

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.

Romagnola ragu, ready to dish up.

Romagnola ragu, ready to dish up.

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.

Hand rolling the pasta in Anna's kitchen. now my new favourite thing!

Hand rolling the pasta in Anna’s kitchen. now my new favourite thing!

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!

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Tagliatelle with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Anchovies and Pecorino

I made a long overdue trip to the farmer’s market at the weekend. It was Islington Farmer’s Market this time and quite by accident. I was meeting friends for a Sunday roast lunch and, despite rigorous planning, turned up an hour before the pub opened. So, we wandered off in the snow, after they had really sweetly let us in and allowed us to have a coffee in the warmth even though they were closed.

Snowy London

I love the snow. Well, that’s not quite true, I like the idea of snow. Until, after about half an hour out in it, I remember that it’s cold and wet and uncomfortable. Then I want to get out of it. Then there’s the snowball fights. Not such a problem as an adult, the last time that I was in one was about 5 years ago when I ran screaming into the house with one deposited in my hood. So, I love the snow, if there’s no threat of a snowball fight, and I don’t have to touch it but can just walk about in it and admire how pretty it looks.

Snowy London

So that we did, and we happened upon Islington Farmer’s Market. The last time that I was there was some years ago, when it was in Islington Green. It has moved further north now, nearer Highbury at William Tyndale School (behind the Town Hall), and has alot more space. There was quite a few nice stalls there, alot of the regulars on the London Farmer’s Market scene – Alham Wood Farm with their buffalo cheeses and meats, Chegworth juices and others I haven’t seen so often like Two Fishwive’s. In my rush, there was one stall that particularly impressed me: Kingcup Farm, they had a fantastic variety of leaves, herbs and heritage products that I have been looking for like candy beetroot and parsely roots. There was also a producer selling a fantastic range of potted herbs and salads, I’ll be going back to sample some of them and the other wares that I had no time to investigate.

Kingcup farm produce

One of the things I bought from Kingcup Farm was purple sprouting broccoli. This is a wonderful seasonal vegetable, more tender and flavoursome than the green broccoli (calabrese) that we are more familiar with. The ones on offer from Kingcup were very young and tender with slender shoots and small heads of purple broccoli.

I wondered what I would do with it, often like to serve it in a salad with a cheese like feta or pecorino shavings, simple dressed and still crisp having been briefly fried or blanched. This time I wanted to do something different so had a browse around to see what it’s paired with frequently. My searches quickly threw up the following: capers, anchovies, garlic, chilli and pasta with herbs like rosemary and parsley.

I decided to go down the pasta route, most recipes went with orechiette, rigatoni or penne. I fancied trying a taglliatelle recipe as the shoots were so tender it would be a nice complement. Having had an enormous roast yesterday, I wanted something light, so I steered clear of cream and kept it simple. It was tasty and light, I think perfect for lunch or a light summer supper. The anchovies imparted a wonderful savoury flavour and depth and the chillies some warmth, all topped with the lovely purple sprouting broccoli.

This served two.[Read more]