“This is the classic ragù that my grandmother taught me: a delicious, versatile sauce that can be used in many ways. Added to lasagne, any type of pasta, served with meatballs…” Lella from Cuoche in Vacanza
Recently, I wrote about my cooking lessons in Tuscany. In short, how I’d always thought of Italian food as something cheap and easy that you threw together in your student days, when you didn’t have an oven – or much of a clue.
Then, I visited Tuscany. Or, perhaps to be more precise, Cuoche in Vacanza, an Italian cooking class, visited me. In addition to rewriting the whole section of my brain labelled “Italian food,” they also shared a recipe or two. Here, as promised, is one:
1 medium onion
1 celery stalk
500 grams of minced meat (pork or beef)
1 sausage – opened (optional)
1 can tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 glass white wine
Chop the onion, carrot and celery together, heat a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of a pan and fry the chopped onion, celery and carrot until soft. Add the minced meat and opened sausage and allow to cook until the meat is quite dry. Add the wine and let it evaporate.
Add the tomatoes and cloves, and if the tomatoes are peeled, break them up with a wooden spoon.
Allow to simmer until the meat and sauce are unified (about one hour.) Stir occasionally.
Add salt during the last five minutes of cooking.
In many ways, this recipe for ragù isn’t too different to my student version. So where did I go wrong? Well, I never used cloves or celery, I probably grabbed sunflower oil or whatever oil there was to hand, and in all probability, I drank the wine. Now I’m older, wiser (ahem) and have a much more discerning palate, I’ll have to try this at home myself!
“When I was small, my grandmother let me try it by spreading it on a slice of Tuscan bread (bread without salt.) This will always be the most delicious way of eating ragù for me.” Cuoche In Vacanza
Disclosure: Casa Gentili invited me to attend this cooking class in Italy. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like (and eat what I like.) Otherwise, life’s just too short.
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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