RAGU PASTA SAUCE FROM UMBRIA - meat, tomato, mushrooms, truffles and cream
Umbria Preparation - 1 1/2 hours Serves 4
This recipe is adapted from Elizabeth Romer's wonderful book "A Tuscan Year". It reflects a more traditional cooking method with the use of butter instead of olive oil and cooking the odori - the celery, onion and carrot - whole (unchopped) for part of the cooking process.
10 1/2 oz of a mixture of lean veal, pork and chicken, minced 2 oz of fat prosciutto 2 oz of butter (you can substitute good olive oil, but with the cream and the truffles, unsalted butter might be the better option) 1 celery stalk whole or cut in half 1 carrot whole or cut in half 1 onion, small, whole or cut in half 1/4 cup white wine 10 1/2 oz of ripe tomatoes or 1 # 9 tinned tomatoes 1 t tomato concentrate
1 oz chicken giblets diced 1 oz dried funghi (mushrooms) 3 T thick cream 1 small black truffle cut into thin slices A pinch of nutmeg. 1 lb fresh tagliatelle or fettucine
Mince the meat together with the prosciutto. In a large heavy pan over gently heat, melt 1 1/2 oz of butter and add the minced meat and the celery, onion and carrot kept whole or cut in half. Let the meat just change colour, it must remain soft. Sprinkle the meat with two or three tablespoons of white wine and continue cooking over low heat, allowing the wine to evaporate. Add the tomatoes deprived of their skins and chopped and the tomato concentrate, mix all the ingredients together and let the ragu cook gently for an hour, checking occasionally to see that it is not too dry; if it is, add a very little stock, broth, or white wine.
Meanwhile, soak the dried funghi in a little hot water, squeeze them dry and chop them into small pieces; cook the funghi gently in a little butter. Similarly chop the giblets into small pieces and cook them gently in the rest of the butter. When the ragu' has cooked for one hour, remove the odori (celery, carrot, onion) from the pan. Then add the giblets and the funghi, mix them all together and let them cook for a few minutes. Finally, just before serving, turn the heat down as far as possible and stir the cream into the sauce, then sprinkle on the pinch of nutmeg and finally the sliced truffle. These must be stirred in very gently and not allowed to cook; the flavour of the truffle will be stronger in this way. Serve with perfectly cooked fresh tagliatelle.