Is it Ragout or Ragu? We pronounce them both same in English, but they’re different. Ragouts are more like a slow braise using large pieces of meat. Where as ragu, is typically made with ground/minced meat such as you find in a Bolognese sauce*. A great explanation of the differences can be found here in Food and Wine magazine . By my thinking, this dish is a Italian braise or ragout .
We love ragout, ragu and pastas of all kind. In fact, you’ll be seeing lots of Italian dishes in coming posts, with this dish being in my top five “All-Time Favorite Italian” meals. All the credit for this “Pappardelle with amazing slow – cooked meat” recipe goes to Jamie Oliver. Jamie’s Kitchen (published 2003) is home to this fine recipe. Jamie Oliver has probably been the most significant influence in developing my cooking style.
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Anyway, I first made this ragout dish in the winter of 2005. It was the first time we lived in Sweden (yes we’ve lived here before) and we were having some of the Eva’s family over for a Sunday dinner. Oskar (Eva’s nephew) was only a wee toddler then and known to be a bit of a picky eater but man, did he tuck into this dish. He ate and ate until we though he’d explode. Oskar is now a good looking tall and lanky teenager. I wonder how much he’d eat now? Scary! Hence, we must cook it for him again. Or Oskar, perhaps you’d like to cook it for us. The recipe is below.
For a family dinner party we wanted to cook a hearty and yummy meal for all . So, my mind instantly thought “Pappardelle with amazing slow – cooked meat” ragout. Everybody loves Italian!
First of all, don’t think this is too difficult, it’s really easy to put together this ragout sauce. However, it does need to cook for awhile. Those delicious layers of flavors come out when simmering or braising the Ragout.
You’ll need some good quality canned whole tomatoes for this ragout. I love San Marzano tomatoes for my sauces. We discussed canned tomatoes in our previous “Tomato Soup Base” posting, so I wont digress on that topic. As for the protein, use what you love. Venison, moose, pork, beef, lamb or wild boar are all great choices. Our favorite protein for this dish is wild boar or vildsvin as it’s called in Sweden, but today it’s lamb. We’re lucky here in Sweden to have wild game available for purchase at our local grocery stores. For my feral pig (hog)* hunting family in America, the feral hog meat would work beautifully in this recipe.
TIP: Using whole tomatoes in a ragout or braise dish really lets the full sweetness and tomato flavor come into the dish. Try not to disturb them until the braise is complete. They will then easily fall apart.
Also, grab some onion (I like red, but any will work), carrot, celery, garlic and herbs. You’ll need a bottle of decent red wine. You actually only need a couple of glasses for the recipe, but some
could did spill into my glass! Try and use the same robust red for the ragout as you plan to serve with the meal. I usually use a Chianti, Cabernet or Merlot. In the end, it’s your choice. To finish up the ingredients you’ll need a big knob of butter and a little bit of whole pearl barley* (which is what I use) but other whole grains should work as well. Or, leave the grain out of the ragout.
Also, don’t forget the pasta, fresh pappardelle is fantastic with this ragout. No pappardelle? Just grab any shape of pasta. This is also great on toasted Italian bread or with polenta *.
* Thanks Wikipedia
Additionally, you’ll need a cartouche. “What the heck is a cartouche”? A “cartouche” is a cover made with parchment (baking) paper that’s cut to fit your braising pan (like cut out paper dolls). You can view step by step instructions on cutting your cartouche in this post Cartouche making, Simple and Easy. Prior to cooking the cartouche is placed in the pot as shown above. As a result, the cartouche holds all the heat and moisture while simmering your ragout .
So, we have our ingredients and cartouche together and it seems like it’s time to make ragout! This freezes especially well and is good for up to three months.
Happy Ragout Cooking!
Amazing Slow-Cooked Italian Lamb Ragout and Pasta
- 1.125 lb Braising protein (1#2oz or 500 g) lamb, pork, beef, boar, venison, moose or even rabbit or game birds. cut into about 2" (5cm) square pieces.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil for browning
- 1 - Small red onion peeled and chopped fine
- 1 - Carrot peeled and chopped fine
- 1 - Celery stalk chopped fine
- 4 - cloves Garlic peeled and fine chopped
- 2 tbs (2 msk) - Fresh thyme leaves, fine chopped or 2 tsp ( tsk) dried
- 2 tbs (2 msk) - Fresh rosemary, fine chopped or 2 tsp (2 tsk) dried
- 2 - 14 oz (400 g) cans of San Marzano whole plum tomatoes or other whole canned tomato of choice
- 5 oz (147 g) glasses of good quality red wine Chianti, Cabernet, Merlot or red table wine
- 2 tbs (2 msk) pearl barley (optional)
- As required Salt and fresh ground pepper
- 7 tbs (100 g) - butter
- 1 lb (500 g) - fresh pappardelle pasta or other wide fresh pasta. (substitute about 10 oz (285 g) of dried for fresh.)
- 1/2 cup (1.25 dl) finely graded Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
- 1 - Cartouche
Begin by heating the olive oil in a heavy pot over a medium high heat. Once heated (oil should be shimmering), add the meat and brown on all sides. You may have to do this in two batches.
Once the meat is browned, throw in the onions, carrots, celery and herbs. Stir and continue cooking until the veggies are softened (takes about 7-10 minutes for me). Add garlic and stir for a minute or two until the garlic fragrance is lovely, but don't over cook.
Next, take a sip of your wine to make sure it still taste good (optional) and pour in the two glasses of red wine.
Now, deglaze the bottom of you pan scraping up all those goodies.
Cook the wine down until it is mostly evaporated. It will take a bit, depending on you stove maybe 20 minutes. It should smell and look terrific by now.
Carefully add your plum tomatoes and stir slowly and softly so as not to break them up.
Toss in the pearl barley (if using) and stir.
Now, cover the pieces of meat with about a 1/2 inch of water.
Remember that cartouche that you made, wet it and then rub with oil. Place in the pot on the surface, cover and cook on simmer for three hours.
Next, carefully remove the lid and cartouche (place it on a plate). Give the sauce a stir and check your braised meat. The meat should be "fall apart" tender.
Also, now is a good time to throw on the pot of pasta water.
If your meat needs additional cooking time, re-cover with the cartouche and cook another 1/2 hour.
Now, check your seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper as required.
Place cooked meat in a bowl and cool slightly. Next, pull the meat apart using two forks until you get it the way you desire.
While the meat cools, you may need to continue cooking with the ragout with the lid and cartouche off your pot to reduce the sauce to the consistency you wish.
Stir your pulled meat back into your perfect sauce. Taste! Adjust seasonings if needed.
Your sauce is ready and the Pasta is cooking, so toss in the butter and stir until the ragout is fully mixed and shiny.
Then throw in the cheese stir and remove from the heat.
Drain your pasta* (saving a cup of liquid) and slide it into the ragout,tossing the pasta with the sauce until mixed (add pasta water if needed).
Finally, garnish with a little finely chopped fresh rosemary and Parmesan. Tuck in!
*Cook your pasta "al dente" or with it still having a bite. This usually means that you reduce your pasta cooking time by about 10%. You will then finish cooking the pasta with the ragout.
If cooking a double batch of the recipe, the cooking (braising) time may need to be increased up to an hour. This will depend on your pot size. But still check for doneness after cooking for three hours.