Wednesday, March 4, 2009

When the outside is colder than my freezer ...

... I feel genetically obligated to make pasta. I made this a few weeks ago and noted it in my Cover Girls blog - which is something my sister and I dreamed up - to keep us from going insane in the Minnesota winter (we cook cover recipes from magazines once a month). The day I made this dish, the inside of my freezer was twenty degrees warmer than the air outside my home! I was determined to find a dinner meal that did not entail a trip to the grocery store. I had wearied of putting on all the clothes in my closet to go outside.

I feel like I am double-dipping - using this recipe in two different blogs - but over at La Dolce Vita and Proud Italian Cook, they are holding a Festa and I have the perfect entree: Fettucine with Ragu.

Ragu was not something my family made. They worked their magic with red sauces or "gravy" as it was sometimes called. Grandma and Grandpa hailed from Potenza and Ragu hails from Bologna. Different regions, different dialects and different foods.

I found this in February 2009's issue of Tastes of Italia and it fit my criteria for the evening meal: pasta, comforting and every ingredient was already in the house.

You need: (For four)
1/2 pound fettuccine cooked according to package directions (I used one pound and had enough sauce for all; there is no way 1/2 pound of pasta serves four in my home)
3 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup beef broth
3 T butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 pound sweet Italian sausage - casings removed
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tsp tomato paste
1 15-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 tsp nutmeg (I am a recent convert and now grate my own)
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping (It says optional; Parmesan cheese is never optional ion my home - it is required)

Wash the mushrooms and chop them. Soak the mushrooms in beef broth for 30 minutes. In a large skillet heat the butter on medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the sausage and cook for 5-6 minutes (until it is crumbly and brown). Add tomatoes and cook till mixed..

Add wine, tomato paste, beef broth with porcinis and stir to mix well. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cook for 45 minutes - stirring occasionally.

The simmering time is a must. The flavors intensify and the aroma works its magic. I probably stirred more often than necessary because I liked visiting my sauce. It made me forget that the outside was a bleak frozen tundra.

Stir in the nutmeg and milk and cook for ten minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. Remove and mix with pasta. Top with grated Parmesan.

Easy enough for a casual meal, flavorful enough for the Festa and a quick side trip to Bologna to offset the "frozen tundra blues." Grandma may never have made it but she would have approved.


Anonymous said...

This looks wonderful! Thanks for joining our festa!
Maryann xox

Proud Italian Cook said...

Claudia, What a great dish for our festa, a true classic!! Thanks so much for joining us!!
xox, Marie

Claudia said...

Thank-you! I am pleased to be at both your tables.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Thanks for visiting my kitchen yesterday. Your Ragu looks terrific at the Italian Fiesta - what a fun event. Your bowl is gorgeous and so Italian.
Like you, I have been grating my own nutmeg and you're right, it makes a big difference and it's such an easy thing to do with the microplane. I had a really nice William Bounds grater especially for nutmeg, but the microplane is handy so I use it.

Anonymous said...

Just reading the post title alone...I don't even want to ask what the thermometer says!

Thanks for stopping by. I just did a quick lookover on the round up and noticed your entry. LOVE the idea of fire-roasted tomatoes, and had to laugh at the part where you wrote there is no way 1/2 pound of pasta serves four in my home -- that amount is barely enough to feed two!!!

Simona Carini said...

I hope winter is over soon. My mother made ragu every Sunday: a big pot that would last several days. On the day it was made, past was fettuccine. I like your expression "genetically obligated to make pasta."

Claudia said...

My mother made "macaroni and sauce" every Sunday. Nobody says macaroni anymore.