Authentic Italian Ragu di Carne. Italian ragu is very different from American-Italian spaghetti sauce (which tends to be soupy and largely tomato sauce/paste-based.) There are variations of Ragu di Carne, but mine consists of ground beef, bacon, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, chopped Roma tomatoes, red wine, heavy cream, fresh thyme and rosemary, bay leaves, and a few additionals listed below. The vegetables are caramelized in the butter and olive oil and the ragu is slowly cooked for over an hour. Delicious!
Make a double batch to freeze for quick lunches or dinners.
** NOTE TO VEGETARIANS: As I was stewing up this ragu it occurred to me that TVP would lend itself beautifully to a vegetarian rendtion of this. I’m going to make that in the near future. If any of you beat me to it, let me know how it worked for you!
- 2 tbs unsalted butter (vegan: use vegetable spread, such as Earth Balance)
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 3 slices bacon, diced (vegetarian/vegan: Morningstar Veggie Bacon Strips plus ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional). Smoked paprika is a nice substitute to add a "smoky" flavor for dishes that normally call for bacon)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ lb ground beef (or about ¾ cup dried TVP) (not traditional but for even better flavor substitute ¼ lb ground Italian sausage)
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 2 cans (14.5 oz each) petite diced tomatoes
- Optional: For a "saucier" ragu add 1 (14.5 oz) can plain tomato sauce
- ½ cup heavy cream (vegan: vegan whipping cream substitute)
- ½ tsp dry thyme
- ½ tsp rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Hot spaghetti cooked al dente (use gluten free if needed)
- Melt the butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrot and cook, stirring, until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Add the ground beef and stir to break up any lumps until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream, tomatoes and remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
- Serve with the pasta of your choice and sprinkle with Parmesan-Reggiano cheese.
- Note: This sauce is even better the next day!