Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blackout Ragu

When your power goes out for close to three days, as happened to us last week, throwing away a lot of food is inevitable. After tossing any contents of the refrigerator that I couldn't get onto ice, I was reluctant to pillage my freezer quite so soon. Our local news radio said that a full freezer can remain frozen for 48 hours so I left mine closed for the first two days having faith that our power would return within this window. After the 48 hour mark came and went with no sign of light(pun completely intended), I opened the freezer door and started sorting. By hour 50 or so, when I bravely opened the freezer, all the frozen fruit and vegetables and some of the meats had already gotten mushy. No one should ever have to see what the bananas I'd saved for smoothies looked like.

According to our local news station (also the source of the 48 hour rule which was only moderately accurate), meat that is still mostly hard frozen can be refrozen. Luckily, a friend had room in her freezer for the meats that had not thawed. However, the only way to salvage the foods that had already begun thawing was to cook them. If you happen to have 6 - 1 pound packages of grass fed ground beef bought directly from the farmer, one option is ragu.

I usually think of ragu as a cool weather dish, leaving a big pot to simmer for hours in late fall. With a gas stove top that would still work during a blackout with a little help from a lighter, it became a summer dish as well. You can substitute all ground beef for the pork and veal if you prefer.


(serves a blackout potluck or at least two meals for 4 - 6, unless your teenaged son has his friends over and then who knows?)

2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground veal
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 large red onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 cup red wine
5 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large frying pan, crumble and brown the ground meats, breaking up large chunks with the back of a spoon. Drain the meat out of the fat and reserve the meat.

2. In a large, heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the pancetta. Let the pancetta brown and render some fat.

3. Add the onion, celery and carrot to the pot with the pancetta, salt lightly and cook until vegetables soften and onions become translucent.

4. Add the drained ground meat to the vegetables and pancetta and again break up any larger chunks of meat with the spoon.

5. Add the wine to the pot and raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil and then lower and simmer for 2 - 3 minutes.

6. Add the tomato paste and a bay leaf and cover with water by about an inch.

7. Continue to simmer for about 3 hours, adding more water if the mixture seems too dry. Taste for salt and pepper.

8. Remove the bay leaf and serve over penne or tagliatelle with parmesan cheese.

No comments:

Post a Comment