Lilliana’s Ragu

I was invited yesterday to the home of architect Peter Woerner, proprietor of a beautiful restored farmhouse called Le Tanelle, for a cooking lesson with a woman from Castelnuovo. Lilliana was a spirited and charming instructor with a great deal of expertise and some very interesting kitchen secrets, all of which she said her mother-in-law taught her. She made braised rabbit, green beans, torta della nonna (a classic Tuscan pastry cream filled tart topped with toasted almonds), and this out of the world ragu, which she served over tagliatelle. The special ingredient in her ragu is orange zest, which added just the right note of levity to this hearty, meaty sauce. Grazie, Peter for inviting me! Grazie, Lilliana for a great day of cooking, laughing and eating!

Lilliana’s Ragu

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 medium diced onion
2 diced carrots
2 ribs of diced celery
1 cup white wine
1 28 oz. can peeled plum tomotoes, chopped coarsely
grated orange zest from one orange
salt and chili pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large pot or saute pan over medium heat.
Add the onions and cook, stirring, for two minutes; then add the celery, and then the carrots, allowing time in between each addition for the vegetables to begin softening. Be attentive and do not let them scorch!
Add the beef and pork and cook until brown, breaking up with a spatula into fine bits.
Add the wine and the orange zest and cook, continuing to stir frequently, until the wine is evaporated.
Continue to saute the meat over medium heat, while chopping it up with the edge of a spatula, until the meat just begins to caramelize on the bottom of the pan. It will get sort of sticky and brown.
At this point, add the plum tomatoes and all of their liquid, and let cook another 30 minutes over medium heat.
Season to taste with salt and chili pepper flakes. If the sauce is too acidic, you can add a pinch of sugar.

Serve over the pasta of your choice–tagliatelle, pappardelle, penne, spaghetti or pici–or anything you like.


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