Baked Pasta With Bolognese Meat Ragù

(Pasta al Forno con Ragù alla Bolognese)

 

Bolognese Meat Sauce
(Ragú alla Bolognese)

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk

White Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt

Ragout

  • 1 pound penne
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter

For meat sauce, melt butter with oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When butter foams, add onion, carrot, celery, and pancetta. Sauté until lightly browned. Add veal. Cook, stirring, until meat is no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and stir in wine. Cook until wine has evaporated. Press tomatoes through a food mill or sieve to remove seeds. Discard seeds and stir pulp into veal mixture. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until sauce reaches medium-thick consistency. Add milk and cook 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

To make white sauce, bring milk almost to a boil; set aside. Melt butter in medium saucepan. When butter foams, stir in flour. Let mixture bubble gently over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not brown. Whisk in hot milk all at once and continue whisking until smooth. Season with salt. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until sauce has a medium-thick consistency. Reduce cooking time for a thinner sauce or increase it for a thicker sauce. Rub surface of sauce with 1/2 tablespoon softened butter to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside.

To assemble ragout, preheat oven to 400º F. Generously butter bottom and sides of baking dish; set aside. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook, uncovered over high heat until pasta is cooked only halfway and has a firm consistency. Drain pasta and place in large bowl. Add meat sauce, 2/3 cup of white sauce, and about half of cheese. Mix until pasta and sauces are well combined. Turn into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese and dot with butter. Place dish on middle rack of oven and bake at 400º F until top has a nice golden color, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes. Serve.

Serves 6

Adapted from Biba’s Northern Italian Cooking. 2002. By Biba Caggiano, HP Books)