Egg Noodles with Bolognese Meat Sauce

Tagliatelle al Ragu

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When I was growing up and I knew that we would be having Tagliatelle al Ragu, my mouth would water in anticipation of that glorious moment when we would sit down at the table and the steaming platter would arrive with its irresistible aroma. The dish is almost synonymous with the city of Bologna and is a staple in the region of Emilia-Romagna of which Bologna is the capital. One will find that there are small variations in its preparation depending on which area one is in. This version is typical of the area called Romagna, east of Bologna near the Adriatic coast, which is where my family is from. It is the way my mother makes it and the way my grandmother made it.

Total Time from Start to Finish: 3 hours and 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced carrot
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced celery
  • 12 ounces ground beef (at least 15% fat)
  • Salt
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice, coarsely chopped
  • Tagliatelle made with 3 eggs and 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Method

  1. Put the olive oil and 3 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and Sauté until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and continue stirring until the meat has lost its raw color.
  3. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the alcohol has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the milk and the nutmeg and continue cooking, stirring, until it has reduced by about half.
  4. Add the tomatoes, season with salt, and once they have started bubbling turn the heat down very low so that the sauce is barely simmering. Cook uncovered for a minimum of 3 hours stirring occasionally. You can cook it for up to 5 hours, the longer it simmers the better it will be. You can prepare the sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it or even freeze it. When reheating, add a couple tablespoons of water.
  5. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, cover, and place over high heat, When the water boils, add 2 tablespoons salt and the tagliatelle, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve at once.
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