Veal Ragu And A Food & Wine Contest

Pasta is one of my favorite things to eat because it offers so many options, not just in the shapes and sizes it comes in but also in what it can be eaten with -- red sauce, cream sauce, meat sauce, pesto, vegetables, seafood. I could go on. Because I'm always looking for new types of sauces and new ways to enjoy pasta, when I saw pappardelle with veal ragu in the October 2009 issue of Food & Wine, I immediately read through the recipe and decided to make it. If you love tender, falling-apart meat with lots of flavor and wide pappardelle noodles, then you must make this too.

Pappardelle with Veal Ragu (adapted from Food & Wine, October 2009)


2 1/2 pounds boneless veal shoulder, cut into 3-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground fennel (or crushed fennel seeds)
3/4 cup dry red wine (I used Ravenswood Cabernet Sauvignon)
One 28-ounce can Italian whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 cups chicken or veal stock
3/4 tablespoon minced rosemary
1 pound fresh pappardelle (or less)
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)


Season the veal with salt and pepper and dust with flour, tapping off the excess.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the veal and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 12 minutes. Transfer the veal to a plate.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the casserole. Stir in the onion, garlic, coriander, and fennel, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the wine, and boil until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook over moderately high heat for 5 minutes.

Add the stock and rosemary, and bring to a boil.

Add the veal, cover partially, and cook over low heat until very tender, 2 hours.

Remove the meat and shred it, using two forks. Boil the sauce until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the meat.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pappardelle until al dente (I started boiling my water just before the meat was ready to be removed and shredded). Drain and return to the pot or place in a serving dish. Serve pappardelle topped with the veal ragu. Top with cheese, if desired (we didn't think it was needed).

The meat was incredibly tender, even velvety, and bursting with flavor. I appreciated that the wine was subtle, unlike other meat dishes I've made in which wine has been a main component and has sort of over-taken the whole dish.

This is a great dish for the cold days ahead. It's a comforting dinner for two with plenty of leftovers, but it also makes an elegant meal if you're having company.

If you store the pasta and ragu separately, you can just rewarm the ragu the next day right in the same vessel you cooked it in (though you might need to add a little chicken stock if it gets too thick) and toss the pasta in toward the end to warm that up too.

And about that Food & Wine contest...

Did you know that Food & Wine is on the hunt for America's Best Home Cook? Now I know a lot of you make amazing meals at home all the time, so I think you should head over to Food & Wine's Web site and fill out an entry form.

On veal...

"Veal, cast in a kinder light," The Washington Post