Using the diverse cultures and foods of Astoria, NY to feed one man's imagination in the kitchen.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tuscan meat ragu and Pasta al forno

After another meal of this maddeningly delicious dish and the constant requests for the recipe, I give you the "Tuscan meat ragu" that makes the above pasta al forno... Shhhh, don't tell anyone.

Inspired by Trattoria Mario, Florence Italy. Original recipe to remain secret out of loyalty and respect to Chef Romeo.

This version: Jonathan Forgash

Tuscan meat ragu:
1 lg or 2 med. red onions peeled
1lg carrot peeled
3 stalks celery
1 bunch parsley
6 basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dry.
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
1 sm lemon zested
2lbs ground brisket (including all the fat, it's the secret ingredient.)
2 cups chianti or similar
16oz crushed tomatoes.
Salt and red pepper flakes.

Tuscan spice blend (makes enough for more dishes)
1 tablespoon each: (Ground) corriander, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, anise, cumin.

Grind first 5 ingredients in food processor and into pot with plenty of olive oil.
Saute till soft and browned (do not burn), About 20 minutes at medium heat.

Add the garlic, rosemary and lemon zest. Stir till fragrant.

Add ground brisket, mix in well. Turn up heat to saute. When meat is browned, lower heat and simmer uncovered 45 minutes. You want it all to be a nice dark mixture.

Add wine and simmer another 20 minutes.

Add crushed tomato and some water from rinsing out the can, 2 tablespoons Tuscan spice blend, salt and red pepper flakes (just enough to feel a bit of heat later). Stir and low simmer partially covered 1hr.

Your kitchen should have a rich meaty aroma with background hints of Cinnamon and nutmeg. Taste and adjust for salt, heat, Tuscan spice. Do what you will to make it your own. It will not be a very wet sauce nor should it have much of a tomato flavor. This is all about the hearty meat flavor with some unusual yet wonderful flavors.

Dish #1 Cheese tortolini with Tuscan ragu.
Use some of this ragu to sauce cheese tortolini and add some grated aged Parmesan to complete the dish.

Dish #2 Pasta al forno
Prepare 2 cups bechamel sauce.
4 tablespoon butter, 4 tablespoon flour. Mix in pan till combined and blond.
Add 2 cups milk. Stir till just thickened.

Mix in 2 cups Tuscan meat sauce and simmer 30 minutes.

Mix sauce into cooked rigatoni, add a handful of grated aged Parmesan. Pour into casserole and bake in oven at 325 till cooked through and top is slightly browned. Basically you are just cooking through the dish as all the ingredients are all ready cooked.

Serve with grated Parmesan and a good Northern Italian red wine.


Miles said...

I just returned from a year in Florence and visited Trattoria Mario many times. I love the rag├╣. I went in several mornings and watched Romeo and company at work and he just put the meat right into the boiling veggie mix without browning the meat first. Have you tried it both ways? Just wondering.


ps I just redid their website and we added a blog, hence the google id

Jonathan said...

Miles, just tried it that way and loved it. Actually put everything into a pot and into a low and slow oven for 4hrs. left the lid off a crack and it all reduced and concentrated nicely. Email me more about your trip and experience. Sounds great.

Deborah Young ( said...

I returned from a trip to four different cities in Italy and we ate at Mario's four days in a row and can safely say they were our best four meals there! I was searching the internet for any recipe that would come close. I can't wait to go out tomorrow & look for a Tuscan spice blend and get cookin'. Especially as the weather gets colder. Thank you SO much!

Stephen said...

HA! I have been, FOR YEARS, Trying to recreate Mario's ragu after eating there for a year, everyday! I will not ask too much but I would love to know if there are any ingredients in your recipe, that were NOT in his.
thank you so much for posting this,

Jonathan said...

Stephen, to be fair I will say that my version was based on tasting, watching and very very poor translation. That and the fact that Romeo would never hand over the actual recipe. I think mine is very close and delicious but as you know the biggest difference is the quality of meat and other ingredients that go into the dishes over there. For instance; where would you find Siena pork fat in America? That ingredient alone made many of the dishes superb.

Stephen said...

Jonathan, thank you again for this post. I was wondering if you could take my email off the post, as I have been getting junk mail ever since I posted here.
dang web crawlers!

thank you

Stephen said...

Just to be clear I mean the post from December.

thanks again.