White Ragu

We all know (and love) the red when it comes to ragu, aka meat sauce, but I’m here to tell you that a white ragu is where it’s at. I stumbled across this recipe on my Google homepage and upon realizing it was a Raffetto’s recipe I knew it would be good. You may recall how much I love Raffetto’s from this post. I followed the recipe with a few small tweaks: used dried thyme instead of fresh, omitted fennel seeds (because I didn’t have any), and used half and half instead of heavy cream. The changes were minimal so the essence of the dish was still strong. It was also easy to make, it just takes a bit of time for the flavors to simmer together, as is typically the case with a good meat sauce.

Cook down 1 chopped onion and 2 minced garlic cloves in olive oil for about 20 minutes until they’re golden (be careful not to let the garlic burn). Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, combine 2 c. chicken broth, 2 sprigs rosemary (keep on stalk), 2 sprigs thyme (or some shakes of the dried stuff), and 3 bay leaves. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Refocusing attention to the onion mixture, add 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (there will be some nice heat here), 1 tsp fennel seeds (if you have em), 1 tsp smoked paprika, and some hefty grinds of cracked black pepper. Stir it all up, increase the heat to medium-high, add 1 lb ground beef, and brown it all up while breaking the meat apart. Once the meat has browned, pull the herbs out of the broth and add about half of it to the meat mixture. Don’t get rid of the rest of the broth – you’ll probably need to thin the sauce out a bit later. Simmer the meat sauce for 20 minutes and then add 1 c. of heavy cream or half and half and simmer for another 15 minutes until the sauce thickens up. While the sauce turns into a sauce, cook up a pound of pasta (pappardelle is perfect here). Once the sauce looks ready, add a half c. grated parm and stir to combine. Now it’s ready. You may need to play around with it a bit – add a little more broth…a little more heat…whatever you need to do to get the sauce to the right consistency. Toss it together with the pasta, garnish with fresh parsley and extra parm and you’re good to go.

I love this sauce so much. Meat sauce doesn’t have to be red! This is a nice break from the acidity of tomatoes and since the base is half broth/half cream and all liquid (vs. liquified tomatoes) it’s lighter than the traditional red. It may be a white sauce but it’s not a cream sauce so it’s definitely more appropriate for springtime. And just like that, Raffetto’s went from being just a favorite store to a favorite recipe source.