Monday, June 27, 2016

Tagliatelle al Ragù Bolognese: Homemade in Umbria

Inspired by the beautiful kitchen and brand new pasta machine in the villa that we were staying in Umbria, we decided to make homemade pasta dough the first night we arrived. In addition to the flour and bolognese ingredients, we also bought two wooden broom handles to act as our impromptu pasta drying rack. Suspended between two kitchen chairs - albeit unconventional - the "rack" was a complete success, providing ample space to hang our mounds of fresh made tagliatelle and spaghetti. Our first dinner was Tagliatelle al Ragù Bolognese, the perfect comfort food after a long day of travel. With just five simple ingredients and half an hour of mixing, kneading and rolling, the pasta was hung to dry as we started to make the Ragù Bolognese using a cup of Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso to enrich the sauce, with the remainder poured into our wine glasses as we watched the sunset and looked forward to our rich, hearty Ragù Bolognese made with our lovely tagliatelle — la vita è troppo breve per mangiare e bere male!

Inspired by the bright beautiful kitchen and brand new pasta machine in our Umbrian villa, 
we made enough dough the first night for both tagliatelle and spaghetti 

Using two new broom handles purchased at the local 'Supermercato', 
we fashioned up a system for drying all of our homemade pasta 

Homemade Tagliatelle and Ragu Bolognese 

Homemade Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese
Serves 8

1 lb Tipo '00' flour
5 whole large eggs
2 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp olive oil

Bolognese Sauce:
2-3 tbsp olive oli
3 lb lean ground beef
5 cups homemade tomato sauce, or good quality store-bought
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 cup red wine
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 cup coarsely grated Pecorino 

On a clean dry surface, mound the flour and make a well in the centre. In a bowl beat the eggs, yolks, salt and olive oil, then pour the mixture into the well. Using a fork or your hands, slowly incorporate the flour into the egg mixture, and mix until the ingredients are well incorporated, then knead until the dough is smooth, about 4-6 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Cut dough into quarters, and flatten one piece into a rectangle, covering the remainder with a towel. Using a pasta machine, pass the dough through the roller set at the widest setting and then run it through one more time. Decrease the setting one notch and roll the pasta through again; repeat, decreasing setting by one notch each time until you've reached the second-to-last setting, creating a 1⁄16-inch thick sheet, then pass it through the pasta machine using the tagliatelle attachment. Have a large floured baking tray ready and place loosely gathered bundles of tagliatelle onto it, or hang from a dowel to dry. Repeat the process for the remaining pasta dough, and allow to dry for at least an hour and up to 3-4 days. Alternatively, for a handcut tagliatelle, lightly roll the sheet from the short end and cut it crosswise into 3⁄8-inch wide strips, and dry it in the same way.

In a large frying pan, pour a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan set on medium-high heat and add the ground beef, stirring frequently until the meat is no longer pink and is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, a teapoon of sugar, and stir thoroughly to combine. Turn the heat down to low, then pour in the red wine and continue stirring until the mixture is the desired consistency. Cover the sauce and continue cooking on low heat to meld the flavours, about another 30-60 minutes.

Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat, and when it comes to a rolling boil, add the homemade tagliatelle and cook until the desired consistency, about 5 minutes, drain in a colander then return to the bolognese sauce. Serve in warmed dinner bowls and sprinkle with some grated pecorino.

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