This post is part of the series: LET’S OM NOM Cooks Edmonton Cooks: Signature Recipes From the City’s Best Chefs. You can see the recipe list here or follow chronologically here.
Corso 32 is one of Edmonton’s best restaurants for Italian cuisine. The inclusion of all three of Chef Daniel Costa’s restaurants in the Edmonton Cooks cookbook is probably enough reason to buy the collection. Since Edmonton’s weather hasn’t been the best in the last few weeks, I figured I needed to make something hearty. Something comforting. And what better way than to warm up with Corso 32’s Ragu Bolognese?
- Ground Pork
- Ground Beef
- Tomato Paste
- Whole Milk
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- White Wine
Ground pork and beef from ACME Meat Market; Pancetta, Parmigiano Reggiano, Tagliatelle from Italian Centre Shop.
Ragu bolognese is a meat-based sauce originating from Bologna, Italy. Traditionally, the sauce is used with tagliatelle or lasagna, or can be used with other flat, broad pasta shapes. This isn’t your “spaghetti and meat sauce” kind of dish, and definitely not a quick one to make. Low and slow is the way to go with a true ragu bolognese.
There’s a lot of arguments over what makes a bolognese sauce “authentic” and I found that reading about the dish’s history was just as fun as cooking it. What seems to be common consensus: meat is the star of the show and only accented with a soffrito (onion, celery, and carrots), tomato (paste in this case), and dry wine (white). The use of veal or liver for gelatin content results in a smooth, silky texture, something that controversial dairy (milk in this recipe) seems to compensate for.
Authenticity aside, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want food. (In this case, lunch before working an evening shift!)
First I melted butter and added my ground pork, ground beef, and pancetta and cooked until the meat was dark golden.
Next my soffrito was tossed in and cooked until softened.
Lowering the heat, tomato paste was added and stirred in. Milk, water, and a small cheese rind was added before lowering the heat to a simmer for 40 minutes.
Dry white wine was added and cooked for another 30 minutes before removing the pot from the heat to rest.
While my sauce rested, I cooked the tagliatelle until al dente and reserved the cooking water.
After reheating a portion of the ragu, I threw in my tagliatelle and enough leftover pasta cooking water for the sauce to coat, but for the pasta not to be dry. Gently stirring in grated Parmiagiano Reggiano wrapped up the recipe before plating and garnishing with more cheese.
The recipe takes a total cooking time of two hours (plus prep time), although most of it is actually passive cooking as the ragu sauce simmered away on the stove. It yielded a rich, meaty sauce where true to its origin, meat was the central ingredient. Don’t underestimate the power of pasta cooking water! Because I had to use quite a bit of it to loosen up my ragu (and utilize the leftover starches to help the sauce coat the tagliatelle), I thought my dish was a touch over seasoned. I’d err on the side of caution when seasoning the ragu while it rests and to remember that there’s going to be salt in your pasta water!
The recipe calls for the ragu to rest for 30 minutes before reheating it again with the tagliatelle. I know some sauces, soups, chilis, etc, taste better after a rest for a few hours, or even benefit from a chill out period in the fridge overnight. The enhancement of flavours would make sense for that long of a period. Thirty minutes seemed a measly timeframe for that. Others suggested it was to thicken the sauce. Thanks to some amazing food connections, Chef Daniel Costa confirmed that the rest time was for the meat to reabsorb the sauce and plump up. I did my best to wait before finalizing the dish, and I think it paid off. Two thumbs up!
I still have a lot of ragu sauce left over (even after halving the recipe) and it’s waiting for me in the fridge. Benefits of cooking for two. I’m looking forward to coming home from work, quickly whipping up some pasta, and making another meal of this recipe. Love!