lola rugula how to make easy pasta carbonara

shredded beef and pork ragu

I’ve had a craving for a meaty ragu ever since the weather started to turn cold and, as is typical with me, I was inspired to go with what looked beautiful at the meat counter as opposed to what I traditionally do with my meat sauces. My local grocery had some lovely beef bones with lots of meat on them and hefty country-style pork ribs on sale, so I grabbed a couple of the soup bones and a 3 pack of ribs and carted them home.

I also picked up a 4 pack of Italian sausages because, honestly, that’s just the mood I was in. Apparently, my body already thinks it needs to bulk up for the winter ahead.¬† ūüôā

This makes a humongous family or dinner size batch so if you want to reserve some of the ragu for freezing, only cook one pound of pasta and then freeze the rest of the sauce.

lola rugula pasta and ragu

shredded beef and pork ragu recipe

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 beef soup bones with meat – about 3/4 lb. each
  • 3 pork loin country-style ribs, bone-in, about 1 lb. total
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth, preferably homemade
  • 6 cups whole, peeled cooked Roma¬†tomatoes with their juice
  • 18 oz. tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 Salsiccia sausages (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm half and half
  • 2 lbs. bucatini or other thick pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmesan for serving
  • Fresh parsley, minced, for serving

Season beef and pork all over with salt and pepper.

In a large stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add beef bones and brown on both sides, about 10 minutes per side, until well browned. Remove to a plate.

Add pork ribs and brown well on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Remove to plate.

If excessive grease, drain off leaving 1 teaspoon in pan. Be sure and try to leave all the crispy bits, because that’s where the flavor is. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat.

Add garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. Saute over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes.

Add red wine, stirring and scraping the crispy meat bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce until wine has almost evaporated.

Add beef stock and bring to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add back beef bones and pork ribs.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste, hand-smashing the tomatoes as you add them.

Add grated nutmeg and stir everything together well, until tomato paste is well-incorporated.

Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 3 hours.

Using tongs, carefully remove beef and ribs to a plate.

If using, add sausages to the sauce.

Using 2 forks, shred the beef and pork from the bones. If desired, also scoop out any remaining marrow from the beef bones. Discard bones and any excess fat, and add beef, marrow, and pork back into the sauce.

Simmer for 1 more hour or until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is nice and thick.

While the ragu is nearing its finished time, pour half and half into a small pan and heat until warmed through.

Cook pasta and drain.

Add hot half and half to sauce and stir well.

Toss hot pasta with sauce. Transfer everything to large bowl or platter, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and minced parsley and serve.

lola rugula ragu with shredded beef and pork

Like most homemade meat and tomato sauces, there’s some prep and long simmer time involved but it’s totally worth it. This is a rich and hearty sauce, full of flavor.

The sausages may take it into overdrive but again, so worth it. My husband made a fantastic sandwich with one of the sausages, some sauce, and French bread. What could possibly be bad about that, right?

As I always say, don’t be afraid to play with your food. If you’d rather lighten this up a bit, why not try using chicken and pork, or even some ground or shredded turkey.¬† Or try replacing the sausages with chicken or turkey sausage. Don’t be a slave to specific recipes – mix them up to fit your tastes and lifestyle.

Winter is coming, so make it a warm, delicious one.

Enjoy!

lola rugula how to make easy pasta carbonara

let’s talk about sauce, baby

Let’s talk about homemade tomato sauce. Somehow, in this world of amplified food awareness, it’s become this complicated, convoluted dish and it really doesn’t have to¬†be.

I like to make this sauce in the fall¬†when I have an abundance of tomatoes from my garden. Actually, I make tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes two ways.¬†One is the uncooked tomato sauce version, which is easy, tasty and drool-worthy. Oh, and did I mention it’s a godsend on a hot summer night?

This second recipe is a cooked version, packed with garlic, onion and herbs and cooked for just about 3 hours or so, which I’ve found to be the sweet spot of melding and condensing flavors, while still letting that fresh tomato flavor shine through. This version¬†I typically make in huge batches and freeze dinner-size portions of it, so that I can enjoy my garden tomatoes year-round.

I present to you homemade tomato sauce made with fresh garden tomatoes:lola-rugula-pasta-sauce-made-with-fresh-tomatoes-reciipe-3

Beautiful, right?

If you really want to make this a meal to remember, make your own homemade pasta to serve it with.

lola-rugula-pasta-sauce-made-with-fresh-tomatoes-reciipe

But back to my original point: let’s talk about sauce, baby.

homemade tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 1/4 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 5-6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 7 lbs. blanched, peeled and seeded tomatoes. with their juices. I don’t pre-chop mine, I just crush them as I add them to the saucepan.
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (you may want to add more but wait until the sauce is cooked and reduced before adding.
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano or 3 tablespoons fresh, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add shallots, onions and garlic and cook until onion becomes translucent and soft about 5 minutes. Stir in crushed red pepper flakes and cook about 2 minutes more. Be careful not to burn the garlic, as it will become bitter if you do.

Add tomatoes, salt and herbs and stir well. ¬†Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer only partially covered for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. ¬†Ideally, the sauce should reduce by between 1/4 and 1/3. If you get to where there’s only an hour of cooking time left and don’t feel it’s reducing fast enough, remove the lid completely and make sure it remains at a healthy simmer. When cooked, remove bay leaf and discard.

Serve over fresh hot pasta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Simple tomato sauce, made with fresh tomatoes. Easy, right?

If you’re making this to freeze, be sure to let it cool, refrigerate overnight and then freeze.

I’ve been asked why I seed my tomatoes and I’ll tell you, I’ve made this sauce both ways; with seeded tomatoes and without. I find that removing the tomato seeds for this sauce is essential; the seeds tend to make the sauce a little bitter. Removing the seeds after blanching the tomatoes may take a little more time and effort but in the end, it’s worth it. I put my¬†chinois to work for this job, but a fine mesh strainer works just as well. Here’s the cool chinois I was gifted from my parents:

lola-rugula-chinois-for-seeding-tomatoes

It’s a sweet little old-fashioned kitchen tool that works like a charm. ¬†To use this, I let my blanched and peeled tomatoes cool and then put my chinois over a bowl. Holding a tomato over the chinois, I quickly run my thumb up under the seed pods and scrape them out into the chinois. Then, I put the seeded tomato into a ¬†bowl and repeat with the next tomato, continuing until all tomatoes are done. Using the wood pestle, I run it around the chinois to release anyleftover juice into the bowl. The juice gets added back to the tomatoes and the seeds get discarded. Don’t make yourself crazy trying to get every last seed – you just want to get rid of the bulk of them Anyway, back to the sauce…

lola-rugula-pasta-sauce-made-with-fresh-tomatoes-reciipe-2

Most of you know I love to give you variations on some of my dishes so here you go:

  • Add meat if you really want to – just brown it, drain the grease and then start from the beginning of this recipe.
  • Better yet, make my panko and feta meatballs.
  • If you have to add a little sugar, go ahead and do so; some people like their sauce a little sweet and you should make this recipe your own.
  • I don’t typically add black pepper to this when cooking it but love a bit of it freshly ground on top, right before serving.
  • I get pretty generous with my fresh basil sometimes…the taste of it just reminds me of summer. The amount in the recipe above is conservative – feel free to add more if you want to.
  • I love garlic, so I add quite a bit of it. Feel free to decrease the amount to your taste.
  • Want to make fresh pasta sauce with canned tomatoes? Go right ahead! This recipe converts to four 28 ounce cans of tomatoes.
  • What type of tomatoes to use for fresh sauce? I’ve used different varieties of tomatoes over the years and Roma style tomatoes still work best – they have the most meat and fewest seeds, along with a richer flavor than other types. The sauce in the photos you see above were not made with Romas and I assure you it was super delicious anyway.

Hopefully, my easy recipe inspires you to make some homemade fresh tomato sauce of your own.

Mangia!

lola rugula how to make easy pasta carbonara

braised beef brisket with vegetables

The second the weather starts to cool off, I kick into comfort food mode. I love making braised dishes and soups in the fall and winter, don’t you? Beef brisket with root veggies in a tomato and red wine sauce is a perfect recipe to let simmer for hours, either in the oven or crockpot – heck, you can even do this on a very low heat on your cook top. Usually I’d use tomatoes from my garden for this; every year I blanch, skin and de-seed a bunch and then pop them in my freezer. Unfortunately, with a severe drought in the Midwest this year, I didn’t have nearly the tomato harvest that I usually have. (sniff, sniff).

Braised Beef Brisket with Tomatoes and Red Wine Recipe

  • 6 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 4 to 5 pound beef brisket
  • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
  • 5 large carrots, cut on the diagonal in large, 3-4 inch chunks
  • 4 large celery stalks, cut on the diagonal in large 3-4 inch chunks
  • 4 large onions, cut into quarters
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • A few cups fresh tomatoes, blanched and peeled or 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (sadly I was out of fresh tomatoes this day, which is unusual in my house)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, preferably flat leaf
  • 3 bay leaves

Chop the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and rosemary together into a rough paste. Place in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside.
lola rugula beef brisket recipe

Preheat oven to 325.

Season both sides of the brisket liberally with salt and pepper.

In a large roasting pan or Dutch oven, heat the remaining olive oil and brown the brisket well on both sides.

Add the veggies around the brisket and then drizzle all of it with your rosemary garlic oil.

Add the red wine, tomatoes, parsley and bay leaves.

lola rugula beef brisket recipe

Cover the pan and bake for about 4 hours, or until the beef is fork tender and almost falling apart. This can also be done on the stove top, covered tightly on very low heat, or in a crockpot for 8-10 hours.

Be sure and serve this in large bowls so you can add plenty of the sauce. And feel free to customize this by adding potatoes, parsnips, turnips, or any other veggie that you love.

I may not be ready for winter but my taste buds sure are!