Featured Recipe: Giusi's Ragù
Slow and easy--long-simmered ragù is the quintessential Tuscan soul food. There are as many ways with ragù as there are cooks. This is ours, learned originally from Giusi, who's made it a thousand times. By now, I think we have, too. On many Saturday mornings, Ed makes a huge pot of ragù--tripling, quadrupling the recipe--and another of tomato sauce. We consider these our natural resources. For lunch, while the pots are still on the stove, we spoon ragù over bruschetta, add some cheese, and run it under the broiler. By afternoon, we're ready to fill several glass containers of different sizes and freeze them. We're then free to pull one out during the workweek. Serve ragù in lasagne or over spaghetti and, as you eat, you know you're participating in a communal rite that's being enacted all over the Italian peninsula.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground lean beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 to 2 cups red wine
- 1 cup soffritto (recipe below)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 16 to 20 tomatoes or 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes, juice included, chopped
Pour the olive oil into a 4-quart heavy pot with a lid. Over medium-high heat, brown the meats, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, and 1 cup of the red wine. After the wine has cooked into the meat, about 10 minutes, add the soffritto, and stir in the tomato paste and tomatoes.
Bring the sauce to a boil, and then lower to a quiet simmer. Partially cover, and continue cooking for 3 hours, stirring now and then. Along the way, add the remaining cup of wine if you think the sauce is too dense.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, minced
- 1 carrot, minced
- 1 celery stalk, minced
- 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Saute the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until they begin to color and turn tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
I own over a thousand cookbooks, but I have never been so enthralled by a cookbook as I was when I saw and read The Tuscan Sun Cookbook
by Frances and Edward Mayes. From the very first beautiful photograph of Frances spoon feeding Edward and the mesmerizing opening paragraph--"The Choreography of the Kitchen"--I knew this cookbook would immediately rank with my all-time favorites. The recipes lure me into my Los Angeles kitchen and soon I feel like I am cooking in Tuscany. Even if there were no recipes, I would love The Tuscan Sun Cookbook
for the brilliant photographs of by Steven Rothfeld--they are simply the best I have ever seen in a cookbook. Period. So to lovers of photography and food and Italy and to the simplest and most wonderful pleasures of life, I most enthusiastically say "Get this book." - -Nancy Silverton, founder of La Brea Bakery and co-owner of Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza restaurants in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, and Singapore
Frances and Edward Mayes generously invite us into their Tuscan world, to share in lavish, friend-filled feasts as we gather around the wood-fired bread oven. It’s a book of joy and celebration, stories of the call of the owl, the invasion of wild boars, honest, earthy, and welcoming. We can taste their freshly-pressed olive oil, thrill in the flavor of the neighbor’s lavender honey, want to run into the kitchen to prepare their long-simmered ragù, and plan to duplicate Ed’s caper, anchovy, and mozzarella pizza. Steven Rothfeld’s stunning photos make their world sing, come truly alive. --Patricia Wells, author of Salad as a Meal
Frances and Ed Mayes haven't written some wistful expat's dream; they have done their homework about why Tuscan food is what it is, and what we need to know about it. In their writing, Tuscany doesn't seem a picture postcard (even though the book is a beauty). Instead it comes off feeling much more like home. As for the dishes, they've captured the essential simplicity that is Tuscan cooking. Frances and Ed know what they're doing and it's a pleasure to read. This is one of those books that makes you homesick, even if you never had a home like this. --Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of national radio show The Splendid Table® from American Public Media