Pasta with Red Wine Ragù
This rich, unctuous sauce uses an entire bottle of red wine, giving it a deep, concentrated flavor. Since the wine is the driving force behind the aroma and taste of this ragù, choose a bottle that you would happily drink. Heat will not mask a bad wine, it will only accentuate it! When selecting your bottle, look for a fruity red with low tannins — Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chianti and lighter Cabernets are all great choices here. There’s no need to splurge on an expensive bottle, but something in the $15 range will do just fine (and no one will judge the cook for giving it a little taste first!). Try not to rush the cooking of this sauce. The key to getting a rich, super-tender ragù is to let it cook slowly, gradually adding more liquid as it evaporates. Pro-tip: Letting your meat come to room temperature beforehand helps it brown in the pot instead of steam.
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Yellow Onion finely chopped
- 2 Carrots peeled and finely chopped
- 2 Celery Stalks finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound Ground Beef (at least 15% fat), at room temperature
- 1 pound Ground Pork at room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 4 Garlic Cloves minced
- One 750-ml Bottle Red Wine such as Pinot Noir or Chianti
- 3 Thyme Sprigs
- 2 Rosemary Sprigs
- 1 Sage Sprig
- One 32-ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 quart Homemade Chicken Stock or Low-Sodium Broth
- 1 1/2 pounds Dried Tubular Pasta such as Paccheri, Calamarata or Rigatoni
- Parmesan Cheese for serving
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery, fennel seed, crushed red pepper and season with salt and black pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and pork and cook over moderately-high heat, undisturbed, until the meat begins to brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Cook, breaking up the meat with your spoon, until it is just cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
- Create a well in the center of the meat mixture and add the tomato paste and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste begins to caramelize and deepen in color, about 1 minute. Stir to combine with the meat and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the red wine and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is almost completely reduced, about 20 minutes.
- Tie the herbs into a bundle using kitchen twine and add to the ragù with the crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally and gradually adding the chicken stock as the liquid reduces, until the ragù is thick and the meat is tender, about 2 hours. Season the ragù with salt and pepper.
- To serve, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. In a deep skillet or sauté pan, toss the pasta with your desired amount of ragù, adding pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Transfer to plates and serve, passing parmesan cheese at the table.
MAKE AHEAD The ragù can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to one month.
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