This ragu is a fantastic thing to have simmering away during the day, ready to feed a crowd later in the evening. It’s a big, bold dish which, in the context of a meal, should be served in smaller portions with a light and simple garden salad to help break through its richness. The traditional way to make this is to take the beef and form ‘involtinis’, which involves laying the beef out, spreading the currants and pine nuts over it and then tying them up into thick rolls. For I ease I tend to just put all of the flavours in the pot and cook them all together. One tradition I do adhere to though is that it should only be stirred with a wooden spoon.
I like to get fairly fatty pancetta but if, once you have rendered the fat out, you feel there doesn’t look like enough liquid fat to cook the onions, add a little olive oil. I prefer to stir the fresh parsley through just before serving as it seems to offer a better flavour than if it is cooked for a long period of time. I also just leave the pork bones in the serving dish as I admire the drama they bring to the plate.
Serves 6 – 8
50 g piece of pancetta
2 red onions, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
650 g rump beef, large fat rind removed and cut into medium sized chunks
500 g pork ribs, cut into pieces that will fit the pot
150 ml dry white wine
140 g currants
30 g pine nuts
2 kg the best quality tinned tomatoes you can find
Big handful of chopped parsley
600 g dried fettuccini pasta
1. Place the pancetta in a large pot (I use my biggest Dutch oven) over a medium – high heat and cook, rendering out as much fat as you can.
2. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt and then lower the heat and let the onions sauté, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 5 – 7 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally.
3. Add the beef, pork, pine nuts and currants and cook, stirring for a few minutes to begin to brown the meat. Add the wine and tomato and cook for about 2.5 hours over a low heat with the lid on, stirring the pot occasionally. If you prefer a thicker sauce remove the lid after 2 hours and let the sauce reduce for the final 30 minutes of cooking.
4. When you are ready to serve, cook the pasta as per the packet instructions. Stir the parsley through the ragu and place into a large serving platter. Add the cooked pasta to the platter and stir everything together.
5. Serve with plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano