Ragu, as the Bolognese call their celebrated meat sauce, is characterized by mellow, gentle, comfortable flavor that any cook can achieve by being careful about a few basic points:
The meat should not be from too lean a cut; the more marbled it is, the sweeter the ragu will be. The most desirable cut of beef is the neck portion of the chuck.
Add salt immediately when sauteing the meat to extract its juices for the subsequent benefit of the sauce.
Cook the meat in milk before adding wine and tomatoes to protect it from the acidic bite of the latter.
Do not use a demiglace or other concentrates that tip the balance of flavors toward harshness.
Use a pot that retains heat. Earthenware is preferred in Bologna and by most cooks in Emilia-Romagna, but enameled cast-iron pans or a pot whose heavy bottom is composed of layers of steel alloys are fully satisfactory.
Cook uncovered at the merest simmer for a long, long time; no less than 3 hours is necessary, more is better.
Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in the pot, and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the copped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.
Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well, and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
Add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating - about 1/8 teaspoon - of nutmeg, and stir.
Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface. Cook uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, continue the cooking, adding 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
Toss with cooked, drained pasta, adding the tablespoon of butter, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.
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|Serving Size: 1 Serving (773g)|
|Recipe Makes: 6 Servings|
|Calories from Fat: 544 (54%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 60.4g||81 %|
|Saturated Fat 36g||180 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 18.8g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 2.5g|
|Cholesterol 215.7mg||66 %|
|Sodium 782.1mg||27 %|
|Potassium 2123.8mg||56 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 70.3g||21 %|
|Dietary Fiber 0.8g||3 %|
|Sugars, other 69.5g|
|Protein 46.3g||66 %|
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Calories per serving: 1004
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