Monday, February 18, 2008

Slow food express - Fusilli with Rich Meat Ragù

Sundays are my favorite day to cook - I get the morning to work out, pick up what I want from the grocery and go to town for the afternoon in the kitchen. Ideally, this would be time for me to execute "slow food" recipes where you take your time to build delicious hearty meals from scratch and let time-intensive technique and methods take over. Somehow, my Sundays rarely afford me that luxury.

Take this past weekend for instance. I got up late on Sunday (10:30am) struggled to get my breakfast in, sampled the Sunday New York Times and slugged my way into the gym. At that point, it was already pushing 3pm (time flies when you're slow) and I still needed to do my French lesson, cook dinner and make a weak attempt to catch up on some work after being in New York for the better part of last week. Further, J the BF had a flight at 9pm, so dinner needed to be served promptly by 7 in order for him to get to the airport in time for his flight.

Long story short, I needed to do a shortcut Sunday dinner. The New York Times Magazine featured a story on "Slow Food" which proclaimed that the secret to making the perfect ragù is time - time to let the meat and vegetables brown and brown and brown again concentrating the flavor and giving you a rich deep pudding-like sauce. My two favorite quotes from the article were:

"Brown food taste good" and
"Crud and scrape . . . crud and scrape."

You have to just read it to get it, but I didn't have time for all the crud and brown and whatever, but a rich hearty meat sauce and pasta was what I was hankering for. Instead, I turned to this recipe for Spaghetti with Rich Meat Ragù in Food and Wine. I subbed Fusilli (which I had on hand) and added a splash of cheap red wine as I had a hard time imagining this sauce with no wine - Ragùs need wine, don't they? Drunk harlot sauces that they are! I also tried to give the meats time to sufficiently brown and did a couple of rounds of "crud & scrape" before I gave up and just had to finish the devilish sauce.

All in all, took about an hour (vs. about 3 hours for a traditional version) and the hint of rosemary made it extra fab. I enjoyed it with a side of baby spinach wilted with garlic, olive oil, and Gorgonzola cheese plus a glass of Big House Red wine. When I have one of those fantasy Sundays, I'll try the slow crud and scrape version. I want to experience this brown food business.

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