This is a brilliant recipe for a traditional Italian dish that is uncomplicated and delicious. The Italian gastronomic society l’Accademia Italiana della Cucina has documented fourteen recipes of ragù because as you can imagine, the recipe itself can vary, sometimes wildly, depending whereabouts in Italy you find yourself. In the northern regions you could expect to find the ragù made with minced or finely chopped up meat including beef, veal, pork, duck, goose or game, whereas in the south the ragù is typically prepared by braising larger cuts of beef, veal or pork.
The origins of the ragù appear to be linked to Napoleon’s invasion, and subsequent possession, of the northern provinces of Italy in 1796. In France the “ragoût” was seen as a basic method of food preparation using slow cooking to prepare dishes of meat or vegetables and it’s from this word that the Italian “ragù” originates.
I prepared this ragu using our dual control 3 oven Aga in our Felsted showroom which is perfect for recipes that require slow cooking. For this recipe I used the veal cut “osso bucco” from Summerhill Farm Shop in Bedfordshire who are scrupulous in their sourcing of ethically prepared meat. If you prefer to use beef, then beef shin, or another braising cut of beef would work very well. It serves 6 people and takes around 4 hours to prepare but most of this is the slow cooking time in the bottom oven.
1-2 glugs of olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 sticks of celery, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
200g smoked pancetta
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1kg veal shin or braising beef
1 large glass of red wine
1 tbps of flour
3 tbsp of tomato purée
200ml beef stock
2-3 bay leaves
600g pappardelle (fresh or dried)
Salt and pepper
- If you’re using a regular oven rather than an aga, preheat it first to 150C / 300F / Gas Mark 2.
- Add 1-2 glugs of olive oil to a large le creuset casserole dish and add the smoked pancetta. Fry for 5 minutes and then add the onion, celery, garlic and carrot and fry gently for 10 minutes. I used the simmering plate on the Aga – if you’re using gas or electric, then a gentle heat would be suitable.
- Move the le creuset over to the boiling plate, push the onion, celery, garlic, carrot and pancetta to the sides and then place the meat in the middle to brown. If you prefer you can remove the onion etc using a slotted spoon and then put back once you’ve browned the meat.
- Once all the meat is nicely browned, turn the heat down (if you’re using an Aga, move the dish back to the simmering plate), add the flour and give it a good stir to coat the mixture entirely.
- Next add the wine and let it evaporate.
- Add the beef stock and tomato purée and give the whole thing a really good stir.
- Add the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
- Place in the bottom oven for 3-4 hours – for bigger cuts try and leave it for the full 4 hours.
- Serve with freshly cooked pappardelle, fresh shavings of parmesan and some fresh basil and flat leaf parsley.