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Food, Food - Italian, Recipe, Travel - Italy

Ragu (As interpreted by the clever American wife of a Roman)

I cook.  A lot.  Every day.  From scratch and never from a box or the freezer.  Martha Stewart is my homey(…not really).

Food is important in my house.  And by no fault of my own, I married a really picky Roman man.  Yes, he’s really from Rome… which is in Italy.. and he speaks Italian.. and yes, his parents live there too, and they also speak Italian. (You would seriously be shocked at how often I get that exact series of Q&A).  Anyway, he’s picky and particular.  I’ve had to train myself to become really good at cooking Italian food.

Luckily, that’s not a “bad” job.  I love food.  I love to eat food; all food!  And I really find cooking to be one of the most relaxing parts of my day.  Except when my husband, child #1 or child #2 stand awkwardly in my way in my galley kitchen.  Then I lose my beans; I am irrationally irritated and too focused on this job of cooking, that I take so seriously.  Get out of my way, people!

This week, I had a dinner party, on a Tuesday, oddly.  For an un-named magazine article.  And that’s all I’ll say until it’s published.  But it’s really exciting and it feeds mine and my husband’s egos to the brims.

For the article, I needed to make a “favourite” dish.  I had no idea, as I eat and enjoy basically everything (except for mayonnaise, jell-o, dates and orzo).  My husband knew exactly what I should make.  Ragu.  Easy, but incredibly time consuming (something great for a Sunday) and so comforting and delicious.

Gnocchi con Ragu

And so, without further blah, blah, blah.. here is the recipe:


Serves 4-6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 stalk of celery, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 3/4 pounds ground pork
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pinch of dried mushrooms, minced or crushed
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 liters water (or stock)
  • zest of half of a lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon truffle oil(optional and totally not necessary)
  • 1 sprig thyme, leaves stripped
  • 1 pound dry pasta(gnocchi or ridged pasta like penne rigate), cooked, pasta water reserved
  • parmigiano reggiano to serve
  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large pot.
  2. Add, carrot, celery, onion, shallot and garlic to pot. Lightly salt and saute until beginning to caramelize and soften.
  3. Push sauteed vegetables to the sides of the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high and add each of the ground meats. Brown meat.
  4. Add, bay leaf, mushrooms, tomato paste, red wine and water. Salt and bring to simmer. Bring heat down to low and cover.
  5. Allow to slowly cook, covered, over low heat for several hours. A four hour minimum is best for ragu. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  6. When ready to serve and the ragu has thickened, add lemon zest, thyme and truffle oil.
  7. To serve, cook pasta(ridged pasta is best – or gnocchi) and save 1/2 cup pasta water and add to ragu. Bring ragu back up to simmer. Add cooked pasta, allow sauce to thicken, but do not over cook. Serve, topped with parmigiano reggiano cheese.

Cheers.  And I hope you try this one.  Because it is super awesome and deli-see-us.



About Cassie Jones Feliziani

An American photographer and food lover, married to an Italian man and living in the Netherlands with her two little girls.


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