Happy Daylight Savings! I know I am not alone in relishing this day, when come 6:00 pm we exclaim, it’s still so light out! The best! Plus, for months to come, it will keep getting lighter later – Spring Ahead is one of my favorite activities of the year.
If it seems weird that with this harbinger of Spring I’m presenting a typically depths-of-winter dish, it’s not, for a few reasons. One, this version is lighter (had to!!!) than many you may have encountered because it calls for grass fed veal and beef, which is significantly less fatty than the milk and grain fed versions often used. Two, it is in fact still winter! We’ve got a couple weeks to go ’till the seasons actually change. And three, I *finally* got back on the bike today after a long hiatus as I’ve worked to repair an overuse injury in my knee, and I just wanted to eat this yummy Sunday dinner afterwards!!!
This recipe is an easy classic in which you first sauté the Holy Trinity of aromatics – carrot, celery and onion – and then slowly build the sauce from there. I really enjoy making it because it is methodical, slow cooking, makes several servings, and is always satisfying! I hadn’t noticed before but after a little education on grass fed beef, I really did see a difference – it is much, much less fatty. The flavor is there though, in abundance! I hope you’ll try this version – please let me know what you think!
Total Time: 3 & 1/2 Hours
Hands-On Time: 1 Hour
Kitchen Equipment: Large Heavy Bottomed Pot, Wooden Spoon, Measuring Cups and Spoons, Sharp Knife, Cutting Board, Sauce Pot, Water Boiling Pot, Pasta Strainer, Ladle, Cheese Grater
– 2 Tbsp extra-virgin Olive Oil
– 2 Largish Carrots, Peeled and Finely Diced
– 2 Celery Stalks, Finely Diced
– 2 Medium Onions, Finely Chopped
– 6 Oz Grass Fed Ground Beef
– 6 Oz Grass Fed Ground Veal
– 3 Oz Thinly Sliced Pancetta, Finely Chopped
– 1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine
– 3 Cups Chicken Stock, preferably Homemade
– 4 Tbsp Tomato Paste
– Salt & Pepper
– 1 Cup Whole Milk
– 1 lb Fresh Fettuccine
– Parmesan Cheese & Fresh Oregano for Serving
Before doing anything else, it is crucial to establish Mise en Place when working on recipes that involve adding multiple ingredients over time. As you can see in the photo above, Mise en Place does not have to involve cute bowls or mason jars or antique measuring cups. It only has to be functional. Mise en Place has come up here before – why am I so adamant?
1.) This practice will immediately bring any missing ingredients to your attention. What if you’ve cooked the chopped aromatics and are ready to move on, but when you go to the cupboard, there’s no tomato paste to be found? You’re on your way to the store, it’s getting late, and that wine glass is still empty. Been there!
2.) Mise en Place alleviates the dreaded pile-up of dishes. As you assemble the ingredients, washing each prep tool – the cutting board, your knives, the counter! – leaves you with a fresh slate as you set in to start cooking. As you go through the next round of tools, they can be placed in the sink for quick clean up (or straight into the dishwasher if possible) vs enlarging an existing mess.
3.) You can work ahead if need be. That bike ride I mentioned? It came between the prep and the cooking!
4.) Perhaps most importantly, you to enjoy the cooking process. There’s nothing worse than getting 1/3 of the way through a recipe only to have to stop to pull out the milk, the measuring cup, the can opener, etc. This set up lets you relax and enjoy that glass of wine as you reward all your prep work with a fun cooking session.
5.) Finally, Mise en Place helps ensure a successful dish – having everything at your fingertips allows you to flow through the steps calmly and confidently, mainly for all the reasons listed above.
Alright, now on to the recipe! Once everything is assembled, this is a cinch.
– Heat the oil in the heavy bottomed pot and add the carrots, onions and celery. Sauté about 8-10 minutes.
– Add the meat and cook to brown, stirring regularly, about 15 minutes.
– Add the tomato paste and stir throughly to incorporate throughout the vegetables.
– Add the red wine and bring to a boil for just a minute or two. Deglaze (scrape off) any brown bits by splashing the wine over the bits and rubbing with the side of the spoon.
– Add the chicken stock and reduce heat. Season with salt & pepper and stir. Then, cover with lid ajar and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 & 1/2 hours.
– In time, heat up the milk in the sauce pot to a low simmer and then add to the sauce. Stir throughly and let simmer, again with the lid ajar, another 45 minutes.
– Prepare the pasta & strain.
– Place the pasta in serving bowls and ladle a generous amount of sauce into each bowl.
– Top with parmesan cheese and if you like, some fresh oregano.
This recipe was adapted from Epicurious’ Italy Issue.