This is a recipe right from the kitchen of Paul's mom, so you know it's going to be good.
First, a word on the meat. Here in Italy we just say we are making ragu, and the butcher know the cuts to give us, but in the states you should probably ask for "stew cuts." This should definitely include some bone-in pieces. We recently included a few pieces of oxtail as well with amazing results.
Ingredients (feeds 12...hey, this is Italy, we feed a lot of people)
1.5 lbs. each of Veal, Pork and Lamb
3 Tablespoons of Villa Cappelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 a cup of white or red wine (can use a splash of vinegar as well if you prefer)
Two 680ml (23oz.) jars of pureed tomatoes
Half a jar of Villa Cappelli Sun-Dried Tomato Spread
3 Tablespoons fresh basil
Salt and pepper
|Brown meat on both sides.|
First, drizzle some Villa Cappelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the bottom of a pan. While the oil gets nice and hot, lightly salt and pepper the top of your meat. When the oil is hot add the meat seasoning side down. While the bottom cooks, season the other side of your meat in the pan. Brown the meat on both sides. You aren't "sealing" in any flavors or juices, you are caramelizing the meat to add some nice flavor.
|What the finished sauce looks like.|
Cook your meat in batches, taking it out when both sides are done. Add your onions to the pan. Let the onions cook until at least translucent if not a little longer. Add the wine or vinegar to deglaze your pan. Next add your tomato and Villa Cappelli Sun-Dried Tomato Spread. Let the sauce cook a bit, then taste. Add salt and pepper to taste, and more sauce or spread if you like.
|Going into the slow cooker.|
Place the meat in the slow cooker. Grandma Cappelli doesn't use one, but I find it invaluable. You can cook this on the stove, just adding your meat back into the sauce, but you will need to check it religiously every 20-30 minutes and cook it very very slow for a good 3-4 hours. The slower cooker just makes the process a little more fool-proof and easier.
After adding your meat, pour the tomato sauce over the meat, and cook for 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hour on low. Add in your fresh chopped basil.
When you are ready to serve, spoon out your meat using a spider or slotted spoon. Reserve the meat on a plate and cover to keep warm. Add the remaining sauce to some al dente pasta, 200g per person, preferable penne or rigatoni, and toss. You can reserve a little sauce for everyone to spoon on top. Serve with some grated Parmigiano and you are good to go.
The meat is always served as a second course which is one of the best the things about this dish. You have a starter and a delicious fall-off-the-bone-meat second course all in one pot!
Oh, and I forgot to take a picture of the final dish. And there wasn't a drop of leftovers, so I guess everyone liked it!