Winter is here and this authentic, hearty, wonderfully flavored Ragù – as the Bolognese call their celebrated meat sauce – is perfect after a long day in the cold. The difference between an acceptable Bolognese sauce and an excellent one is simmering the meat in milk before adding the wine and tomatoes in order to protect it from the acidic bite of the latter. Even better, instead of enjoying your Ragù over pasta, try spaghetti squash as a grain- and gluten-free alternative – its delicate sweetness is a perfectly satisfying complement without the digestive heaviness of wheat pasta. This recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazan’s recipe in her book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
4 tablespoons Melt® Organic
½ cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
¾ pound ground beef or venison
Black pepper, ground fresh
1 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up with their juice
1 spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- Place the chopped onion and Melt Organic in a pot that retains heat, such as enameled cast-iron pot with a heavy bottom, and turn heat on to medium.
- Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the vegetables to coat them well.
- Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt (to extract its juices for the sauce), and a few grindings of black pepper.
- Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well, and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red color.
- Add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add the ground nutmeg and stir.
- Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers with just an intermittent bubble breaking through to the surface.
- Cook uncovered for 3 hours, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, it may dry out with the fat separating from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add ½ cup of water whenever necessary while it continues to cook. At the end, no water at all must be left. Taste and correct for salt.
- While the Ragù sauce simmers away, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the halves of spaghetti squash face down on a cookie sheet and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.
- When done, use a spoon to remove the seeds and a fork across the squash (not lengthwise) to loosen the spaghetti strands, scraping them into a bowl or plate.
- Serve the Ragù over the spaghetti squash with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and enjoy!