January, the first month of the year, a reason to pause, reflect, and press reset. Inhale, one, two, three, four, hold five, six… exhale one, two, three, four, five, six; repeat. I stare out over the Escher-isk maze of pale yellow high rises to the Roman pines of Villa Pamphili, the dome of Saint Peter’s in the distance. I love the view and our home in Monteverde Nuovo. A pair of turtle doves rest on our balcony railing, long a symbol of Christmas celebrations, of love, and of devotion. Do they know that Christmas has come and gone?
After the rush of the holidays, I feel a bit blue. The weather doesn’t help. I ache from the bone chilling dampness on this winter morning. Grey skies bring me to my terrace in London. I look out over brick apartment buildings, brownstones, and chimney tops. I called the sprawling metropolis home for three years. Back to the present…
On dreary days, I yearn for warmth and comfort and my family. Two years too long since we sat together and while I can’t physically be with mom, dad, and sis, today’s recipe and music take me to my first home. I close my eyes and stand beside mom at the kitchen counter. She minces the vegetables; I mix the flour and eggs for homemade pappardelle; sis pours the wine; dad turns on the stereo.
A little Beatles. Dad swings me around. We dance and he sings “Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter. Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun do, do, do. Here comes the sun. And I say it’s all right”
The stick-to-your ribs ragù simmers away for hours and fills the kitchen with delicious smells; smells that conjure up a smile, and happy memories; smells that gently lift this heavy veil. Inhale… exhale… 2022 I’m ready for you.
For the meat ragù
- 1 red or yellow onion, minced
- 2 carrots, minced
- 2 celery stalks, minced
- 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 300 g (⅔ lb.) ground pork
- 500 g (around 1 lb.) ground beef
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 ½ qt. tomato puree
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
(Serves 6) – I make extra to freeze or use another day
Cover the bottom of a dutch oven pan with the olive oil while the pan is cold. Add the minced vegetables. Cook on low for around 10 minutes, stirring often.
Increase heat to medium and add the ground meat. Stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up the meat and mixing well with the minced vegetables. Stir continuously (around 20 minutes). Adjust for salt and pepper.
Gradually add the red wine and reduce. Then add the tomato puree and tomato paste, mixing well. Lower the heat and cover the pot, leaving a small opening to allow steam to escape and the sauce to simmer slowly. Cook for at least 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally.
I like to serve this with home made or store-bought dry pappardelle sprinkled generously with Parmigiano Reggiano.