My grandma’s house, kids playing, adults chatting and catching up on the events of the week… the table set for lunch, a big table since there’s 11 of us… these are the memories of my Sunday lunches when I was a kid. And it’s a tradition that most Italian families still have: Sunday lunches are not enjoyed in a restaurant but at home, with parents, gran parents, uncles, aunts and plenty of cousins!
For Italians, food is not just something that keep us going; it is tradition, culture, something to share with loved ones, it's time spent together. And despite the creativity of the cooks (often mums and gran mothers), the menu is pretty much always the same: a platter of prosciutto and salami, with bruschetta or a couple of crostini; a pasta dish; a roast with potatoes and a tray of mixed patisserie or a profiterole (have a look at my mini-profiterole or my Sunday’s patisserie to know what I’m talking about!). I know, it feels like a lot of food and I don’t think I will be able to eat so much now, but when I was a kid it was normal… after all it was our weekly family lunch!
I have to say that I’m not a big meat eater, but I cannot resist a beautiful plate full of pasta… definitely my weakness! 😊 I was always in the kitchen helping my grandma preparing the first course which in my family was either Tortellini Panna & Prosciutto (tortellini with cream and ham) or Tagliatelle al Ragú, my favourite! So, I thought I’d share with you my recipe for the best ragú.
Tagliatelle is a type of fresh pasta similar to spaghetti but larger and made with just flour and eggs – you can make it on your own or buy it ready-made from the supermarket (you can find both fresh and dry tagliatelle). They are ready in just a few minutes and are perfect served with a tasty beef ragú. Here’s my family recipe: it’s very simple, easy to put together and incredibly delicious!! Please note that this Italian ragú is slow-cooked because it needs time to develop all the incredible flavours, but it’s not as time-consuming as you may think.
300 gr Mince Ground Beef
300 gr Mince Pork 5% fat
750 gr Tomato Passata
1 Large Carrot (or two small)
1 Glass of Red Wine
Salt & Pepper
Finely chop equal amounts of carrot, white onion and celery. Place the chopped veggies in a large sauce pan with a little olive oil to cover the bottom. Cook the vegetables on a medium heat so they soften and release all the flavours without browning. Once the vegetables are soft, add the beef and pork to the pan and let them cook until they release all their juices. Once the juices are almost evaporated (it may take a good 10-15 minutes), add the red wine and continue to cook until the wine is almost reduced. Add salt and pepper, then the tomato passata and a cup of warm water. Stir the sauce and let it simmer on a low heat for 2 and a half hours. Check on the ragú regularly to stir it and add extra water if it gets too dry. When the passata is reduce to a nice thick sauce, the ragú is ready.
Done! The aroma around the house will be amazing, trust me! It’s quintessential comfort food and can be used not only with tagliatelle but also with ravioli, tortellini, penne pasta or over a creamy polenta. What I like to do when it’s ready and still warm? Pour a spoon of sauce over a piece of toasted bread… soooo good!
Let me know how it goes and enjoy!