22.9.16

TUSCAN RAGU - RECIPE

When I think of Tuscany the first thing I think of is food. Rich meat dishes, coarse liver pate smothered on toast, unctuous bowls full of pasta, delicious olives and artichokes, glasses full of deep red wine and everything with a good dose of the best olive oil you can get - it's like the Autumn of Italy if that makes sense?! So when I was asked to come up with a recipe that was inspired by Tuscany I knew exactly what I wanted to make - a rich wild boar ragu made with liver for added flavour and served on homemade pasta with deep fried artichoke leaves to give texture, combining all my favourite Tuscan foods. 




Serves 2

For the ragu:

400g diced wild boar (shoulder and/or leg meat) - if your local butcher doesn't do boar, you can order online
100g boar or pig's liver, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red onion
1 large carrot
2 stick celery
1 tbsp tomato puree 
1 bottle of Chianti red wine
Splash of red wine vinegar
4 bay leaves
2 springs rosemary
Teaspoon dried oregano
Smoked salt
Pepper
Handful dark purple (black) olives

For the pasta:
100g '00' flour
Small pinch of table salt
1 large free range egg

For the garnish:
2 pieces pancetta
Jar of artichoke hearts
Vegetable oil
Plain flour
Parsley, finely chopped
Parmesan, grated

Heat a glug of olive oil in a thick bottomed saucepan on a high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the diced wild boar in batches, thoroughly browning all sides. Remove from the pan and keep on a plate until it's all browned. Add the liver and sear this in the pan before removing and putting on the plate with boar meat. 

Grate the onion, carrot and celery, and crush the garlic, mixing it all together with the tomato puree, then adding to the pan you cooked the meat in and turning the heat down to medium. Cook the vegetables for 4-5 minutes, being careful not to let them burn. Return the meat and liver to the saucepan with the vegetables, give it all a good stir, then add the red wine, vinegar, bay, rosemary, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Put a lid on the pan and turn the heat right down, gently simmering for three hours, stirring occasionally. 

While the ragu is cooking you can make your pasta. Put the flour, salt and egg in a food processor (I use a magimix) and whizz for 30 seconds or until the dough forms a ball. You want a soft dough which isn't sticky, so if it's too sticky add a little more flour, or add water if it's not soft enough. (If you don't have a food processor you can do this all by hand - you will need to knead the dough for around 20 minutes to achieve the correct consistency). Put the ball of dough on a very lightly floured surface and briefly knead until you have a smooth ball of dough. Leave the dough to rest at room temperature for an hour. Once rested, it's time to roll the dough. I don't have a pasta machine, so do this by hand, but you can of course use a pasta machine if you have one. Taking a small of piece of dough, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out as thin as possible on a lightly floured surface. Keep moving the dough round so it doesn't stick and put a little flour on the rolling pin too. You're aiming for really thin so keep rolling until you get to a normal pasta thinness! I wanted tagliatelle for this dish, so I cut my sheets of pasta into thin ribbons. Sprinkle the pasta with a little semolina (which will fall off and drop to the bottom of the pan when cooking) to stop the ribbons sticking to each other. 

Now you can prep the garnishes. Heat 2 cms sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan. Tear the leaves off the artichoke hearts, wipe off excess oil and dip each leaf in some plain flour. Once the oil is hot, drop the leaves into the oil and fry for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and put on a plate. Heat another frying pan and once hot add the pancetta, frying til brown and crispy. Remove and keep to one side. 

When the ragu is done remove from the heat and stir with a fork to break up any pieces of meat that are still whole - they should fall apart with the gentlest touch of a fork. Add the olives to the ragu and put the lid back on while you cook the pasta. 

Bring a large pan of water up to a rolling boil and add a good pinch of salt. Drop the pasta into the water and cook for around 4 minutes. Once cooked, lift the pasta out, straight into the saucepan of ragu. Give it a good stir and add a little of the pasta cooking water and a good glug of olive oil.

Twizzle the pasta around a large fork to make a nice bundle to plate up. Top with grated Parmesan, little pieces of pancetta, parsley and some fried artichoke leaves. Serve with a large glass of Chianti, and enjoy with someone you love!


I want to win a week in one of your Tuscany villas!
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