What can I say, this is delizioso! A ragu that can be served with fresh pappardelle or fettucccine. If we feel like having pici (a thick, long Tuscan pasta) and I don’t feel like making it, I substitute a dried pasta called Strangozzi made by De Cecco di Filippo, or good quality Chitarra pasta. Ah…how I long for the Tuscan countryside!
Makes 4 – 6 Servings
1 cup water
1 oz. (30 grams) dried Porcini mushrooms
¼ cup EVOO
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, peeled, finely chopped
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 oz. sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
8 oz. veal stew meat, coarsely chopped
½ dry red wine
28 oz. chicken stock (see below) or tinned low/no salt chicken broth
1 – 28 oz. tin Italian plum tomatoes, in juice, chopped, reserve juice
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
1 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly crushed
(opt.) 1/8 tsp. pepperoncino (red pepper flakes), unless your sausages are spicy
Note: It’s traditional to use 1 lb. fresh pappardelle, fettuccine or pici or 12 oz. of dried strangozzi, but garganelli was what I used here.
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Bring 1 cup water porcini to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and allow to stand 15 minutes. Drain porcini, reserving soaking liquid. Chop porcini, discarding any hard stems. Set aside. Line a sieve with either 2 layers of rinsed cheesecloth or a damp small coffee filter and pour the reserved soaking liquid through to remove any sediment or sand.
Heat the oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, ¼ cup parsley and garlic (known as a battuto); sauté until vegetables are tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Push veggies to side of skillet. Add sausage and cook until brown, breaking up with a fork, about 4 minutes. Add veal and sauté until brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine; increase heat to high and boil until wine is almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken stock; boil 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add reserved mushroom liquid and simmer until liquid is almost absorbed, about 5 minutes. Cool mixture for 15 minutes, then transfer to a food processor. Using approximately 4 on/off turns, process just until coarsely chopped; return the mixture to the skillet; mix in the tomatoes and their juices, bay leaves, sage, fennel seeds and porcini mushrooms. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered until sauce thickens; adding remaining chicken stock ½ cup at a time, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour; season to taste with salt and pepper. The ragu can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly, chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.
While the ragu is simmering, bring a large pot of water to the boil.
Warm a large pasta serving bowl in a 180 F. oven.
When the ragu is done, add 1 Tbsp. salt to the pot of boiling water, then add the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but still firm to the bite), stirring occasionally. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, tossing briefly to combine, over medium heat. Transfer to the warmed serving bowl. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and the remaining 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley, serve immediately.
Trust me…it’s worth the bit of effort!