Make Ahead

Blackout Ragu

October 19, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Serves a blackout potluck or at least two meals for 4 to 6
Author Notes

I make a lot of different versions of this kind of sauce: with and without porcinis, with and without milk, different meats, etc. This one was a result of an extended blackout we had last August. Once the freezer contents started melting, the many packages of grass-fed, farm-to-my freezer ground meats had to be cooked. Milk was at a premium that week, so I didn't use any and found I really liked it just fine without. Luckily I have a gas stove! This feeds a ton of people (12 plus) with about 2 or 3 pounds of pasta. —healthierkitchen

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a very good rendition of a simple ragu. I prepared the mise en place before beginning to cook and found the directions to be clear and concise. I followed my usual procedure of seasoning in layers as I cook, using a light hand because of the saltiness of the pancetta. I didn’t think it was necessary to use a separate pan for sautéing the meat. Instead, in the future, I would prepare it in a Dutch oven from start to finish. This is an excellent recipe for a crowd, or to stock your freezer for easy, delicious future meals. —Debi Claycomb

What You'll Need
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 5 tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Cooked penne or tagliatelle and grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  1. In a large frying pan, crumble and brown the ground meats, breaking up large chunks with the back of a spoon. Drain the meat out of the fat and reserve the meat.
  2. In a large, heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta brown a little and render some fat, but not crisp.
  3. Add the onion, celery, and carrot to the pot with the pancetta. Salt lightly and cook until the vegetables soften and onions become translucent.
  4. Add the drained ground meat to the vegetables and pancetta and again break up any larger chunks of meat with the back of the spoon.
  5. Add the wine to the pot, raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil, and then lower and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato paste and bay leaf and cover pot contents with water by about an inch.
  7. Continue to simmer for about three hours, adding more water if the mixture starts looking too dry. Taste for salt and pepper.
  8. Remove the bay leaf and serve over cooked penne or tagliatelle with grated Parmesan cheese.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • boulangere
  • healthierkitchen

4 Reviews

boulangere February 28, 2013
This could make me wish for more frequent blackouts.
healthierkitchen March 1, 2013
hahaha. Unfortunately, around here, we count on multiple day outages twice a year - once in winter and once in summer. you'd think I'd break down and get a generator by now, at least to run my fridge! This was actually the cheapest meal ever, because if I hadn't cooked that meat, it would have gone in the trash!
boulangere March 1, 2013
My favorite dinners tend to stem not from what do I need, but rather from what do I have?
healthierkitchen March 3, 2013