Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Pasta" - Pasta with Beef Ragu and Sweet Pepper

Date I made this recipe:  May 18, 2011

Pasta – The history and preparation of one of the world’s most popular foods with nearly 650 classic recipes by Vincenzo Buonassisi
Published by:  Rizzoli
© 1973 (Italy); 1976 U.S.
Recipe:  Pasta with Beef Ragu and Sweet Pepper – p. 274

I am getting lazier by the minute.  I made this recipe on Friday night and yet here it is Sunday and I am (reluctantly, no less) getting around to writing this up.  In my own defense (and as an attorney, I always have one), the weather today is very overcast and very threatening and it’s making me very sleepy!  Very sleepy.

So meanwhile, back at the ranch, the reason I made this dish on Friday night was because my husband, Andy, did a 150K (almost 100 mile) bike ride yesterday (Saturday) in Wisconsin and wanted a dish that combined carbs with protein.  After careful perusal with suggestions from me, he decided on recipe #511 – Pasta with Beef Ragu and Sweet Pepper.

While he liked this recipe a lot and thought it was tasty, I’m wishing we would have gone with a couple others in this book because the flavors just didn’t hit me.  My biggest disappointment was that the wonderful taste of sweet pepper was overwhelmed by the taste of beef and beef broth.  As my Sicilian grandmother would have said, “That’s-a too bad-a!”

And that’s not my only “beef” – hahahaha.  I get supremely annoyed with recipes that leave out things that I consider basic, such as the level of flame to be used – low/simmer, medium, high?  Next, it would have been nice to know if the beef stock was supposed to reduce or not.  One minute, I had almost a beef soup going, the next minute, I almost burned my pan! Also, and perhaps this is just me, but when I see “lean beef” listed as an ingredient, I want to scream.  What kind of lean beef is required – ground beef, stew meat, steak?  This was so unclear!  Finally, a serving size would have been nice.  Perhaps this book declared a serving size at the beginning of the book, but I don’t want to look at the beginning of the book!  I want it to say exactly how much it makes for each recipe.  As it is, we barely ended up with enough for two servings.  As my late friend, Carol, would say “details, I need details!”

Okay, enough with the kvetching already.  The one thing this dish did have going for it was that it was easy and it used only a few ingredients I didn’t have on hand – the meat and the sweet pepper.  Other ragu recipes in this book looked very good and very interesting but required more ingredients than I wanted to buy and/or required very long cooking times (we’re talking 6 hours or so).  I have done long cooking times before but not this time around.  I had to get my man fed and ready to get going for his 4:00 a.m. departure for this race.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I wish I could say that all’s well that ends well and that this carb/protein combination did the trick, but my guy had a rough ride yesterday.  Who knew that WI had so many big hills?  He said that by the time he got to the last of the hills on the course, his legs were screaming but he soldiered on - barely.  Another guy who stopped at the same place as Andy experienced muscle twitches and cramping, such that he reluctantly had to call it a day and hail the sag wagon.  As for me, maybe there was something about the weather (hot, humid and stormy) because I went for a walk around one of the city lakes and was about done in on the first lap; I usually do two very easily.  Had it not been for a last-minute breeze, I would have said “Screw it” and hobbled to my own “sag wagon” a/k/a my car.  But I made it as well and the two of us shared war stories when he got home.  (For the record, and this is a no-brainer, his 150K ride topped my 3 mile walk.)

By the way, I bought this cookbook for a mere $3.99 at Arc’s Value Village Thrift Store in Richfield, MN.  Sweet!

Pasta with Beef Ragu and Sweet Pepper – serving size not listed
1 lb. pasta
¾ lb. lean beef (I used beef stew meat that I cut up into smaller pieces)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet pepper
¾ lb. onions
1 stick celery
1 carrot
Beef stock (I used almost a full container)
Salt and pepper
3 oz. grated parmesan

Roast the pepper over an open flame until brown all over, then moisten your fingers and remove the skin immediately (or used peeled, tinned/canned peppers).  (Ann’s note:  this was probably the most fun I had while making this dish.  It’s like roasting a marshmallow until it practically turns into charcoal!) Chop roughly and remove the seeds and ribs.

Heat the oil and lightly brown the chopped onion, celery and carrot, then add to the coarsely chopped meat.  Let it brown all over, then add the chopped pepper.  Season with salt and pepper, add enough stock to cover and cook until meet is tender – about one hour.  (Okay, big note on my part—I started with my burner on high, then turned it down to medium and then to simmer and yet, as I said above, I almost scorched the thing.  This did not make me happy.  I suggest maybe a half hour or less on high and then the remaining hour on simmer.)

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