Traveling from Home with Chef Charlie: Tuscany, Part II

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Continuing our stay on the southern shores of Italy, we are whisked away to a picturesque Tuscan villa near San Gimignnano and Volterra. It is here among the rolling green hills and vineyards, that Chef Charlie introduces us to a comforting Italian sugo, or traditional tomato-meat sauce, served over a buttery polenta.

Join us in the Tuscan countryside for Ragù Toscano con Polenta!

Ragù Toscano con Polenta Recipe

Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

1.5 hours

Makes

4 servings

Ingredients

For the Ragù
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
  • 8 oz brown mushrooms, rinsed and cut into quarters
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz ground veal, crumbled
  • 8 oz ground pork, crumbled
  • 8 oz spicy Italian sausage, crumbled

The combination of meats suggested is classic and results in a particularly tasty finish, but ground beef is fine as well.

Chef Charlie
  • 1 – 24 ounce can whole, peeled Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juices reserved

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

For the Polenta
  • 4 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup polenta (recommend Community Grains or Bob’s Red Mill brands)
  • 4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved

Method

For the Ragù
  • To a heavy stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.

  • Add the onions, celery, mushrooms, garlic and a tablespoon of kosher salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

  • Add the meats, and using a spatula, break the meats up until uniformly crumbled. Fold to combine. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meats are no longer pink.

  • Add the wine and stir to combine. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the wine has evaporated.

  • When the mixture is dry, add the chopped tomatoes (with juices), tomato paste, and a little water to cover.

  • Simmer, covered, on low heat for 1 hour. Check every so often, and give a stir.

  • Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

For the Polenta
  • Combine 2 tablespoons butter, chicken stock and half and half in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Add the polenta all at once, and whisk constantly for 5 minutes.
  • Cook until you reach the desired texture (about 15 minutes total); it can have a little more chew or be very soft, depending on your taste. Just cook a little more or little less.

If you want it softer, add a bit more water.

Chef Charlie
  • Once the desired doneness is reached, remove polenta from heat.

  • Add 1/2 of the cheese, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and whip with a spatula for 1 minute to emulsify and cream the fats.

  • Season with kosher salt and pepper, to taste.

To Serve

Add the parsley to the ragù. Place polenta on plate; top with ragù and the shaved cheese.

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