Ragù, the rich and hearty pasta sauce, starts with a crucial choice: the meat’s fat ratio. The golden rule here? Aim for an 80/20 meat-to-fat ratio, no matter your protein preference.
Understanding the Ratio:
Ground meat’s fat content can make or break a dish. Too much fat, and you risk making a greasy mess; too little, and you get a dry, tasteless result. The balance is critical, especially when you consider various dishes have distinct fat requirements for optimal flavor and tenderness.
In the context of ragù, your pork and beef ratio influences the fat ratio you should select. For a balanced 50/50 split of pork and beef, opt for 90/10 beef or even go entirely lean.
A Glimpse into Ragu’s Rich History:
Ragù finds its roots in the French dish “ragoût”, a beef-centric stew but versatile enough to include other proteins like chicken or veal. The dish’s introduction to Italy by Napoleon’s army marked its transformation, evolving to fit the tastes of Italy’s elite, keen on incorporating French delicacies.
The contemporary ragù recipe we’re familiar with comes from “the Cardinal’s ragù”. This version, curated by chef Alberto Alvisi for the Cardinal of Imola, incorporated minced meat, tomatoes, onions, and an array of spices – cinnamon being a notable inclusion.
For ragù to truly shine, it must be a labor of love: simmered slowly over hours, allowing flavors to meld and meat to tenderize. The 80/20 ratio endows the ragù with its signature creamy richness.
Innovative Ways to Enjoy Your Ragù:
While ragù is traditionally paired with pasta, its rich flavor and texture offer versatility in its use. Consider pairing it with a thick-simmered Italian polenta for a delightful alternative.
Have leftover ragù? Repurpose it! Use it as a base for Sloppy Joe-inspired sandwiches, or blend it with rice, veggies, and a generous helping of cheese to stuff into peppers. With its robust flavors, it’s delicious enough to enjoy solo, especially when accompanied by crusty homemade bread.
However, if you’re a pasta purist, select broad, flat noodles like tagliatelle or pappardelle. Their shape complements the dense sauce. Alternatively, tubular pasta variants like penne or rigatoni make excellent choices to capture every drop of that ragù goodness.