Ragú

drawing of frogs splattered with tomato sauce

Ethan Simon contributed this recipe. He'd like his grandchildren to call him Papa (pronounced Puh-puh).

Papa based this Ragú on Samin Nosrat's recipe but simplified it to cut the preparation time (he makes this every week!). Papa hopes you enjoy the, "little bit of this, little bit of that" style cooking that Nosrat encourages.

Ingredients

3/4 lb. (12 oz.) Orecchiette or Fusilli pasta
9-14 oz. spicy or mild Italian pork sausage
(85g) half of 1 medium yellow onion
(168 g) 2-3 carrots
(113 g) 2-3 celery stalks
(78 g) 4-5 Baby Bella mushrooms
two generous handfuls (77 g) baby spinach
garnish with flat-leaf parsley
(18 g) 3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup (50 g) olive oil (and more for cooking)
1 cup (8 oz.) chicken broth
1/4 cup (63 g) dry red wine
1/8 cup (28 g) whole milk
6 oz. (170 g) tomato paste, high quality
1 chunk parmesan rind
1 pinch nutmeg, freshly grated
3/4 Tablespoon Kosher salt
to taste:
sea salt
fresh-cracked pepper
chili flakes
paprika

Instructions

Serves 4

Finely chop:
(85g) half of 1 medium yellow onion
(168 g) 2-3 carrots, peeled
(113 g) 2-3 celery stalks
(78 g) 4-5 Baby Bella mushrooms
Break into walnut-size pieces:
9-14 oz. spicy or mild Italian pork sausage, casings removed

Heat a dutch oven or enamel pan over medium heat, and once hot, add:
1/4 cup (50 g) olive oil
Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the sausage pieces, and season to taste with:
fresh-cracked pepper
chili flakes
paprika

Coat sausage pieces with oil and seasonings, and cook for 4-5 minutes until brown on all sides, stirring every 2 minutes. Papa likes his sausage slightly charred, but don’t go overboard and dry it out. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to set aside, and leave the oil in the pan.

Keep the pan over medium heat, and slide in the onions, carrots, and celery, reserving the mushrooms for later. Drizzle more olive oil onto the vegetables, stir to coat, and then add:
two generous pinches sea salt
more fresh-cracked pepper
more paprika
Cook the vegetables for 10-15 minutes until soft and brown around the edges, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat if they’re browning too quickly. Just before the vegetables are finished cooking, mince:
(18 g) 3 garlic cloves
Reduce heat to shy of medium, and add the garlic, mushrooms, and cooked sausage pieces. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Pour in:
1 cup (8 oz.) chicken broth
1/4 cup (63 g) dry red wine
1/8 cup (28 g) whole milk
6 oz. (170 g) tomato paste, high quality
1 chunk parmesan rind
1 pinch nutmeg, freshly grated
Reduce heat so the sauce is only simmering, cover with a lid, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.


PASTA

Boil:
10 1/2 cups (84 oz.) water
Add and dissolve:
3/4 Tablespoon Kosher salt
Dump in:
3/4 lb. (12 oz.) Orecchiette or Fusilli pasta
Cook pasta to al dente (test its firmness by biting a noodle before the box’s recommended cooking duration). Scoop out some of the pasta water in a heatproof measuring cup and set aside for later. Drain the pasta.


LAST TOUCHES & ASSEMBLY

Pour a little pasta water into the reduced sauce until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste the sauce, and if needed, adjust the ingredients as such:
Add more salt and seasonings to taste
Needs acidity? Add wine
Too bland? Add tomato paste or milk
Too rich? Add pasta water
Too thin? Add chicken broth

Once it tastes great, stir in:
two generous handfuls (77 g) baby spinach
Cover with the lid, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Combine the pasta and sauce, or dish out the pasta naked and spoon the sauce on top. Garnish with:
flat-leaf parsley, chopped

 
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