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A Traditional Southern Italian Ragù

Slow-braised beef yields a rich sauce for a pasta first course, while the meat itself follows as a succulent main dish

by Paul Bertolli

fromFine Cooking
Issue 17

To a southern Italian, ragù is not merely a pasta sauce, it’s a symbol that evokes the perfume of Naples, the Sunday family table, and a collective nostalgia for what is good, generous, and comforting. Many dishes go by the name ragù, and they vary from region to region; perhaps the best known is the northern Italian ragù Bolognese. In southern Italy, the tradition is to make a full meal of ragù and enjoy it in two courses: a first course of pasta with a sauce rendered from the slow braising of beef;  and the main course, the braised meat, fragrant from cooking with the sauce and tender from its long simmering. Bertolli also selects an antipasto, baked marinated eggplant, and a dolce, or dessert, of figs poached in brandy, to complete this menu. (Although he provides a recipe for green beans, he knows that you will choose your vegetable based on what is freshest and in season.) Rosina Tinari Wilson offers wine pairings for this southern Italian menu. Recipes include: Baked Marinated Eggplant; Ragù in Two Courses; Long-Cooked Green Beans with Oregano; and Drunken Figs with Anise.

Photos: Mark Thomas

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