working man's ragu

★★★★★ 1 Review
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By Klara Wahlster
from Charlottesville, VA

This is a version of what's know as finto, or "fake" Neapolitan ragu -- fake, because it's designed to let you eat within an hour of the start of cooking. Real ragu -- be it Neapolitan, Bolognese, whatever -- usually takes between four and seven hours to cook. This, refreshingly, does not. It also has fairly easy access ingredients.

★★★★★ 1 Review
serves 4, as a main course
prep time 15 Min
cook time 35 Min

Ingredients For working man's ragu

  • 16 oz
    pasta of choice (rigatoni, zitoni, anything tubed)
  • 1 md
    onion
  • 2 clove
    garlic, crushed
  • 3 oz
    hard salami, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 oz
    prosciutto, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp
    olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp
    salt
  • 1/2 tsp
    pepper
  • 1 pinch
    cinnamon, ground
  • 1 c
    heavy cream
  • 2/3 c
    red wine
  • 6 Tbsp
    tomato paste
  • 4 sprig
    italian parsley, fresh
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How To Make working man's ragu

  • 1
    In a large pot, bring water to boil, salt, add uncooked pasta. Just shy of al-dente (as they will get a minute of cooking later), remove from heat, reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water, drain, and set aside.
  • 2
    Finely chop or mince onion, set aside.
  • 3
    As finely as possible, chop up hard salami. NOTE: You may need to peel a thin layer of skin from the salami first. If it's there, it's gotta go.
  • 4
    Preferably with a garlic press (or if you want to sub in 2 tsp of chopped garlic from a jar), crush 2 cloves of garlic.
  • 5
    In a cast-iron skillet, or frying pan with reasonably high edges, add olive oil and garlic on medium low. Continuously stir garlic to prevent burning for a couple of minutes.
  • 6
    Cascade the onion, the salami, and the cubed prosciutto into the pan -- the goal here is to have translucent onions, and fried meat just to the edge of crispy, which should take no more than 5-10 minutes. NOTE: If it's easier, you can start with the meat in the pan until slightly crispy, reserve on paper towels, soften the onions and garlic and then re-add the meat.
  • 7
    Add the tomato paste (and it MUST be tomato paste, you cannot substitute anything else) to the pan, and be generous with the tablespoons.
  • 8
    Pour on the wine to deglaze pan. You may not need all 2/3 cup, you may need more. It should be enough to cover the surface area of the pan.
  • 9
    Scrape up all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and mash in the tomato paste, until you have a layer of thick tomato, meat, and aromatics covering the surface of the pan. Turn up the heat to a medium, or medium high. Occasionally mix the paste together and redistribute -- you want to avoid burning the paste, but you need it to caramelize. The tomato paste will visibly darken from a vibrant primary red to a dark burgundy, change slightly in consistency, and reduce -- which can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on the heat of the pan. This is when you can progress with the recipe.
  • 10
    Pour reserved starchy pasta water on to paste, and mix in until you have a thick sauce. Remove from heat.
  • 11
    Once sauce is no longer simmering, add in heavy cream and mix well until sauce is uniform in color. Add salt, pepper, cinnamon.
  • 12
    Add in pasta and mix with the sauce for a minute before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
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