At the heart of almost every menu in Tuscany is a classic ragu. Recipes are passed down the family line from generation to generation and alter significantly from table to table. As with everything, however, the quality of the ingredients makes the difference and particularly when it comes to the meat. We are fortunate to have an array of legendary butchers on our doorstep (namely, Oliviero; Falorni; and Dario Cecchini.)
Pici al Ragu
Making pici is a wonderful activity for all the family and is surprisingly easy — it just requires a bit of patience.
- Pici ingredients
- 250g Flour Type ‘00”
- 250g Ancient Grains Flour
- Fine salt
- A glug of Montecalvi Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 250ml tepid water
Sift the flours together in a bowl and add the salt and a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Then gradually add the water mixing it with your hands. Take out of the bowl on to a board and begin kneading gently for about 5 minutes (not too hard and not for too long).
Wrap up in kitchen wrap and set aside in a cool dry place for about 1 hr.
Divide the dough into quarters. Knead and roll out into sheets (approx. 1cm thick) and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Slice in to 0.5cm strips. Then pinch and roll each individual strip. Dust with flour and then set aside as ‘nests’ ready to cook.
The pici should be prepared the day you are eating them.
Cooking time: 6 minutes
- 3 tbsp Montecalvi Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
- 300g finely ground beef and pork (if you can’t find this, beef works)
- 350g Passata di pomodoro
- A generous glug of red wine
- Salt and black pepper to taste
In a large heavy-based pan, over a medium-low flame, warm the olive oil and gently fry the onion, carrot, and celery with a little salt until they soften and start to become translucent.
Crumble the meat into the pan and keep it moving until it has lost its pink tinge. Then add a generous glug of red wine – clearly the better the wine is, the better your ragu will be. Allow this to reduce a little and then add the passata with some salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook very gently for at least an hour, ideally 2 if you have the time. If the ragu is getting dry, add a little water to keep it going.
When ready to serve mix the ragu with the pici and plate. In Tuscany, cheese is rarely added, but a swirl of good extra virgin olive oil always is.
For the perfect soulful pairing, we particularly like this dish with our AVG 2016