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Author Notes: This is the recipe I'd hoped to submit to the "What you want to be remembered for" competition, but I didn't make the deadline. My grandmother often used to make us "tuco," the italo-argentine version of ragu, and in her hands it was a multi-layered, deep but very fresh dish, a complex stew of fresh vegetables and spices completed by the flavours of beef. It is a multi-layered bolognese, and over time I realized had elements of curry-making in the sense that you start out sweating the onions, garlic and spices in oil to create a base layer, and build up on that. This takes some time and devotion, but it makes for a pretty magnificent bolognese. I love it best over the classic long pasta shapes, spagghetti or linguini. I hope you enjoy it! —nogaga
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 slices thick cut pancetta, cut into lardons
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon each red, white and green pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, preferable freshly ground from a new stick
- 1 allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon grey sea salt
- 1 large (or two smaller) white onion, fairly finely chopped
- 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic
- 2-3 carrots (you want abut a cup) chopped into fairly small cubes
- the 5-6 central stalks of a bunch of celery, well cleaned and chopped fairly small (you want a little over a cup)
- 1 pound organic beef, either ground or finely chopped by hand
- a cup to a cup and a half milk
- 4 tomatoes
- 2 2/12 cups tomato passata, homemade if possible
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, almost pulverized (I use a hammer)
- 250 dl good cabernet sauvignon
- 2 bay leaves, if possible fresh
- zest of one lemon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- freshly ground black pepper
- Gently brown the pancetta lardons in olive oil. When they are ready, remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add all the ground spices and salt-- coriander, tri-color peppers, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, fennel and cinnamon, freshly ground either in a mortar and pestle or in a grinder-- to the oil stir slowly for a few minutes, until their fragrances begin to perfume the room. (I prefer the less powdery quality of the mortar and pestle method.)
- Add the onion and garlic, slowly stirring so they are blanketed with oil. Once they are translucsent, add the carrots and celery. Again, stir slowly till the vegetables start to soften. Meanwhile, break up the meat with a fork. This is a crucial step as you don't want the meat to clump up. Chop the tomatoes, making sure to reserve the juices.
- Add the ground beef, and mix it with the vegetables until it is browned but not stiff. Add the cup or cup and a half of milk to cover your mixture, and continue occasionally stirring until the milk has been absorbed/evaporated. For kicks (and for the recipe) hammer at your package of dried porcini, till they are very finely broken.
- Add chopped tomatoes and juices. Stir. Add the passata. Add the wine. Add fresh bay leaves and broken up dried porcini mushrooms. Return the lardons to the pot.
- Stir occasionally and keep cooking for about 30 minutes, until the solid and liquid ingredients of the sauce have completely become one. Leave in pot for a few hours or overnight, to allow the flavours to meld. After reheating and just before serving, add the lemon rind, parsley and black pepper to taste.
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