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Ragu

It took me so long to type it, I might as well get it out everywhere! Since
I rarely use standard recipe formatting, I figure that I might as well send
this to you for St. Blog's cookbook, since I have written it out all the
way.

Ciao!

Erik


1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3 Tlb butter, extra virgin olive oil, or rendered goose fat
1/3 lb pancetta, thinly sliced, and finely chopped
4 peeled whole cloves of garlic
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped finely
2 lbs. lean pork in cubes
2 lbs. lean beef in cubes
2 salt packed anchovies (you can use oil packed if you have to, but I really
recommend the salt packed ones ­ a can lasts a long time, and they are much
better)
1 chicken liver, chopped finely (may even be run through a strainer ­ the
point is to have the liver flavor the whole ragù, not to have any little
pieces to bite on.
1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
2 Mediterranean bay leaves, broken in large pieces
1 box of Pomi chopped tomatoes from Italy (they are the best, although 6 in
1 ground tomatoes from Escalon, California is good, too)
Half a bottle of good red wine
1 pint good brown chicken stock (please make your own or buy it from a good
butcher. The canned stuff is a salty abomination)
Fresh cracked pepper (preferably melange, a chef¹s blend of black, white,
pink, and Jamaican (allspice) peppers)
Sea Salt.

Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them
sit for at least 20 minutes. In a different bowl, place the salt-packed
anchovies and cover with cold water. Let stand.

Either chop your pork and beef by hand (using a super-sharp chef¹s knife),
or use a meat grinder. The advantages to chopping by hand are that the
irregularity can be pleasing, and the knife will respect the integrity of
the cells of the meat, thus preserving juiciness (although, considering the
length of the cooking, this might be a bit irrelevant). Using a meat
grinder, especially the one that attaches to the kitchen aide, is faster and
easier. If you must, you can even buy pre-ground meat, although you will
never know where it has been, and what has been ground with it. Only buy
pre-ground meat from a butcher you trust. Mix the pork and beef.

Drain the mushrooms, straining and reserving the juice. Chop them finely.

In a large, well-seasoned cast iron pot warm your 3 Tbl of fat. When it is
hot, but not smoking, gently fry the pancetta. As the pancetta is browning,
add the four garlic cloves. Stir them around in the frying pancetta for a
minute and add the onion. Fry for two minutes and add the carrots and celery
and the mushrooms and the thyme. Fry for several minutes.

Add the meat, stirring it so that it is thoroughly mixed with the vegetables
and let brown. Since you have 4 lbs of meat along with vegetables, your best
bet is to let it sit, turn it, let it sit, stir it and so forth, until it is
done. It will brown to a point, but then juice from the meat and vegetables
will just make it gray, but that is ok. You want is to be cooked. The wine
will give a brown color.

While the meat is browning, filet the anchovies and chop the filets finely.
Make a paste of the chicken liver and the filets. Fry them in a separate pan
with the 1 Tsb of olive oil until they are thoroughly cooked. You can plop
the fried paste on your cutting board and give it a few quick passes with
the super sharp chef¹s knife if you want. Add this to the meat.

Add in the tomatoes and pour the wine into the tomato box. Swish it around
and pour it into the ragù. Add the bay leaves and chicken stock. Reduce heat
and simmer for at least four hours, skimming unnecessary fat off, as needed.
I made my ragù around 4pm last night and went to a concert of some of the
artists on Arhoolie Records (more about that later ­ in short, WOW! What a
show ­ the best of the Sacred Steel musicians on one stage in an intimate
hall), not getting back until around 11pm. I could smell my grandmother¹s
kitchen 30 feet outside the closed front door! I knew it was right.

When it smells so good you want to dig in, taste it and add salt and pepper,
as needed, stirring it in and retasting it as you add. The texture of the
meat may surprise you (it is very well done, basically), but realize that
the ragù is a sauce base, and will be used with tomato sauce, with cream,
with béchamel, mornay and other additives.

The ragù can be frozen or canned. If you keep it in the refrigerator, just
make sure that it is heated to 195 degrees and held for 10 minutes every
week or so.

  posted by Brian @ 5:55 AM


Tuesday, April 29, 2003  
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