CLASSIC pasta pinci with veal ragu (also pappardelle or penne)








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Pinci, or pici, are home-made long noodles of egg-less pasta, native to the Tuscan south, especially Montalcino and Pienza. They are truly a delight, perfect for Tuscan hearty sauces.

As noted above, pappardelle, the wide egg noodles, works just as well with this sauce -- or penne, or even fettuccine works also.

for the sauce:

  • three tablespoons olive oil
  • one and one-half pounds boneless veal shoulder cut into quarter-inch cubes
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • flour, for dusting
  • one half medium onion, finely chopped
  • two garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • three-quarters cup red wine
  • one 28-ounce can peeled Italian (San Marzano) tomatoes
  • one teaspoon tomato paste
  • two cups chicken stock
  • one bay leaf
  • two sprigs oregano
  • two sprigs thyme
  • one sprig rosemary
  • one half cup freshly grated parmesan

for the pasta:

  • one pound of pinci, pappardelle or fettuccine

Season the veal with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Place two tablespoons of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the veal and cook over a medium high heat until the veal is browned all over, about ten to twelve minutes.

Remove the meat and set aside. Drain the fat, most of it anyway (leaving all the good, brown bits) from the pan.

Add the third tablespoons of the olive oil to the sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic. After twenty seconds add the onion. Cook another three minutes.

Have the heat high, then add the wine, to deglaze the pan. Cook for about two minutes until the alcohol is dissipated and the wine reduced by half.

Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the browned meat. Add the bay leaf, oregano, thyme and rosemary. Stir. Add the tomatoes, and then add the chicken broth. Stir. Bring to a boil and then cover and lower to a simmer.

Simmer away, probably an hour or two, until you have a sauce with a wonderful consistency: moist with just enough liquid to meld with the pasta.

When the sauce is done, remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and sprigs. Add several grinds of pepper and a half teaspoon of salt. Stir, taste and adjust.

Meanwhile bring 4-5 quarts of water to a boil. Add two tablespoons of salt. Drop in the pasta and stir. Continue cooking until al dente. If using pinci, this may take fifteen minutes or so. Test regularly. When right, reserve a cup of the pasta liquid, and drain.

Re-heat the sauce, add the pasta, and stir. If not moist enough, add the reserved liquid as needed. We find that by covering the sauced pasta and turning up the heat to high for two minutes at the most, we can guarantee a truly hot, steaming presentation.

Serve with ample parmesan and some chopped parsley.


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