Slow and easy – long-simmered ragù is the quintessential Tuscan soul food. There are as many ways with ragù as there are cooks. This is ours, learned originally from Giusi, who’s made it a thousand times. By now, I think we have, too. On many Saturday mornings, Ed makes a huge pot of ragù – tripling, quadrupling the recipe – and another of tomato sauce. We consider these our natural resources. For lunch, while the pots are still on the stove, we spoon ragù over bruschetta, add some cheese, and run it under the grill. By afternoon, we’re ready to fi ll several glass containers of different sizes and freeze them. We’re then free to pull one out during the workweek.
Serve ragù in lasagne or over spaghetti and, as you eat, you know you’re participating in a communal rite that’s being enacted all over the Italian peninsula.
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
500g minced lean beef
500g minced pork
2 Italian sausages, casings removed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1-2 cups red wine
1 cup soffritto
2 tbsp tomato paste
16-20 tomatoes or 2 x 800g cans whole tomatoes, juice included, chopped
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Pour the olive oil into a 4-litre heavy pot with a lid. Over medium-high heat, brown the meats, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, and 1 cup of the red wine. After the wine has cooked into the meat, about 10 minutes, add the soffritto, and stir in the tomato paste and tomatoes.
Bring the sauce to a boil, and then lower to a quiet simmer. Partially cover, and continue cooking for 3 hours, stirring now and then. Along the way, add the remaining cup of wine if you think the sauce is too dense.