In the mood for some real comfort food? Try my rich, meaty ragù with thick ribbons of pappardelle.
PLAT DU JOUR
When I eat out in France, what I am mostly looking for (and what really makes my culinary heart skip a beat) is simplicity and good ingredients. Nothing makes me happier than sitting down at a village restaurant in the afternoon for a no-nonsense plat du jour. They are the kind of restaurants that really allow you to get a taste of the French way of life, which when it comes to food and cooking, means taking great pleasure in using top-notch products and savoring the time spent both in the kitchen and at the table.
As of today I will be sharing posts titled ‘Plat du Jour’. These easy and fuss-free meals may not all come straight from France’s vast culinary repertoire, but my goal is to let you sample different foods while bringing you a collection of dishes that will tempt you into spending time at markets seeking out the freshest ingredients, and in the kitchen, preparing them with love.
SIMPLE ITALIAN FLAVORS
The first dish in this series is one I have been meaning to make and share with you. A rich and meaty ragù that is packed with beautiful yet simple flavors: hearty Italian tomatoes, aromatic rosemary and bay leaf, a good glug of red wine and quality grass-fed, organic beef. When making the ragù, remember to allow the meat to come to room temperature before browning it as this will ensure that it stays wonderfully juicy. It’s also important to dry the meat so that it sears and doesn’t simmer, which also brings me to the next point. Brown your meat in batches and do not crowd the pan.
The ragù will simmer slowly for a good three hours, by which time the meat will be falling apart and meltingly tender. Just before it is ready, bring a large pan of salted water (as salty as the sea!) to the boil for your pappardelle. Toss the cooked pasta through the sauce with a little of the cooking water, divide over warmed bowls, crown with a fresh grating of Parmesan and garnish with a few fragrant basil leaves.
Note: If feeding less people, divide the sauce in half shortly before tossing in half of the amount of the pasta stated in the recipe.
Beef Ragù with Pappardelle
- Olive oil
- 1 kilo beef chuck, into pieces of approx. 5cm
- Fleur de sel and freshly-cracked pepper
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 5 fat garlic cloves, sliced
- 3 sprigs rosemary, needles finely chopped
- 2 cans finely chopped tomatoes (I used Polpa from Mutti)
- 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- 125ml red wine
- Handful of basil, with stems, plus extra, to serve
- 500g pappardelle
Allow the meat to come to room temperature and dry well. Add some oil to a shallow heavy-bottomed casserole and sear the meat in batches, seasoning each batch with salt and pepper as you go and adding extra oil to the pan before each batch. Have a bowl ready to receive the seared meat. Once all the meat is seared, add a bit more oil, lower the heat and add in the onions, garlic and rosemary. Cook while stirring, for approx. 5 minutes. Return the meat to the pan with its juices and add the tomatoes, balsamic, bay leaf and wine. Increase the heat and bring to a gentle boil. Stir well, lower the heat and add in the basil (no need to stir it through). Cover the pan and allow to simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Taste after approx. 2 hours and correct the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. By this time you should be able to easily pull the meat apart with a spoon. Do so, cover and allow to cook for the remainder of the time. Cook your pasta toward the end of the cooking time. When the pasta is ready, drain, reserving approx. 4 tbsps of the cooking water. Stir the water and cooked pasta through the sauce and serve on shallow, warmed bowls. Grate some Parmesan over each portion and garnish with basil, a final crack of pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil.