Ragu with Polenta
From Geoff Last
Ragu is a versatile meat sauce that is the base for lasagna, but it’s also great on pasta and polenta. Make extra, freeze it, and you have a rich meat sauce that can be warmed and ready to go in the time it takes to boil a pot of pasta.
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 celery rib, peeled and chopped
- 3 slices prosciutto or pancetta, chopped
- 2 lbs. lean ground beef, preferably free range (or equal parts ground beef, lamb and pork)
- 1/2 c. dry white wine
- 1 c. whole milk, hot
- 1 c. beef or chicken stock
- 1 28-oz. can tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
- salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot, add the onions and sauté for several minutes, then add the celery and carrot and cook for about 5 minutes more over medium-low until the vegetables have softened. Increase the heat slightly, add the prosciutto and cook for several minutes more. Add the ground meat(s), breaking them up, and cook until the meats are no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Add the wine and cook until almost evaporated. Add the milk and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. While the milk is cooking off, purée the beef stock with the tomatoes and warm in a small pot. Season the meat with salt and pepper to taste and add the tomato/broth mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. The ragù can be used in lasagna or served over pasta (such as rigatoni, penne or spaghetti) or polenta. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese. Serves 4-6.
- 4 c. water
- 1 t. salt
- 1 c. yellow cornmeal (not quick-cooking style)
- 2 T. unsalted butter
- 1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan (optional)
This recipe requires less stirring than the traditional versions. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan and add the cornmeal in a thin stream, whisking. Cook, over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, cook at a bare simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon once every 10 minutes for 1-minute intervals, about 45 minutes in total. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and cheese. Serve warm topped with the rich, meaty ragù.