Aunt Maria di Egidio’s ragù

Maria used to be a very commonplace name in Italy, less so now.  And my husband has quite a few aunts called Maria.   To avoid confusion when speaking of these aunts, we tend to tag the husband’s name along their theirs.  Hence, ust so you know, the aunt Maria who inspired this post is married to uncle Egidio.  Well into her eighties, she has trouble with her knees and has a very proud bearing.  Uncle Egidio had some heart problems a few years ago and she kept her beady on his daily routine, making sure he ate and slept and carried on his daily life according to prescription, which — let’s face it — does not amount to a lot of fun.   Brave, strong, unrelenting, rigorous, disciplined, upright, neat … these are all adjectives that used to come to mind where she was concerned until … well, until last time we had lunch together, at their place in a tiny village which is barely within the region of the Marche on the Via Salaria, not far from Amatrice.

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday in September and she and her daughter laid on a lovely meal to celebrate the birthday of my father-in-law (who is Egidio’s brother).  I commented enthusiastically both on her liver-based starter (‘coratella’) and on the super duper ragù.  Knowing how hard she finds it to stand up these days, I was quite suprised to find out that it was she who had cooked both!  I didn’t have her down for preparing tasty food and spent the rest of the meal trying to wrest culinary tips from her!

This is her way of making ragù … and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Here is the meat for the ragù … weighing in at just under 1kg.  Not a fancy cut, not at all … it’s called ‘muscolo’ in italian which translates, literally, as muscle.  It requires a long cooking time to become tender  but is rich in flavour.

Here are 2 glass jars of ready made tomato sauce (for a total of 1kg tomato sauce).

Chop 2 medium sized onions, 1 celery stick and 2 small carrots and put them in a pan and cook on a medium heat for about 10  minutes or until softened.

Drizzle a little bit of oil in another pan, and add 2 cloves.

Now cut up the meat into smaller chunks.

Place the meat in the other pan with the cloves and turn the heat on, quite high.

The idea is to brown the meat all over, coating it with oil at the same time.  This will take about 5-6 minutes.

The diced vegetables (the ‘soffritto’) have softened by now.  Add 1 bayleaf.

Then add the tomato sauce into the soffritto pan too.

Next add the browned meat.  Turn the heat down.

Now add a bunch of parsely …
And, finally, deglaze the juices of the meat with a glass of red wine.

Pour every single drop into the pan.

Now is the time to add a little salt and pepper and give it all a good stir.  The ingredients are all in, it is time to stew the ragù over a low heat for at least one and a half hours, better two.  Even better three.  I know it might sound confusing in terms of instructions … but … but a lot depends on how tough the meat is, on how high the flame is and a host of other little details that are dependent on the realities of miscellanea.  The point to bear in mind is that the meat must be very tender before being enjoyed.

Cover the pan with a lid,  We don’t want the sauce to evaporate.  (I love this heavy-bottom pan of mine because its lid is also a pan, isn’t that clever!).  The idea is to seal all the juices in.  The flame you see in the photo got turned down to minimum after I took the photo.  Do keep an eye on the ragù, however, checking to see that it doesn’t dry out (in which case add a little water) and stirring occasionally.

And here is the ragù a couple of hours later.  A very rich dark red colour … a beautiful scent and a lovely thick sauce.

Remove the meat and put it in another pan.

Take a knife and cut the meat into cubes or slices … whatever you prefer.

Put the water on the boil for the fettucine … (or other egg noodles of your choice).

Here you can see the pasta cooking, and the meat in one pan and the sauce in another.  All standing to attention, waiting to be united.

Place the cooked pasta into the pan that contained the meat …

Add the ragù sauce and stir it in …  If the pasta should happen to ‘dry’ too much, just add a small ladle of the cooking water.

And here it is, ready to be enjoyed!

On the serving plate …

Shower an avalanche of freshly grated parmesan … and … buon appetito!

Serve any remaining meat at the table, for those who would like to add some more to their fettuccine.


About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
This entry was posted in Herbs and plants, italian home food, Primi (first courses - usually a pasta or risotto), Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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