Cheap and Easy Veal Ragu

This cold and uncomfortable weather requires a meaty, warm and filling pasta. I was on the phone yesterday with my butcher, Nichola, and asked about veal neck bones. He said he had the next best thing: veal shoulder. It was cheap at $5.00 a pound.

This dish features a cheaper pappardelle that I learned from Ricardo, a chef in Bridgehampton, years ago. He called it trenette and served it with a lobster and sweet corn sauce. It simply requires a box of lasagna noodles. Place the noodles in a large pot filled with boiling salted water for 6 minutes. Then remove and slice them in half to create 2 curly edged noodles. Then toss with olive oil and hold cold until you are ready to serve.

For the veal Ragu, you will want to start a day in advance by braising 5 pounds of veal shoulder or 8 pounds of neck bones in chicken stock with red wine, onions, carrots and tomato juice. Bake for 3 hours at 350° F. When done, shred the meat. Store the shredded meat in the stock overnight uncovered.

For service, remove the fat from the Ragu. Also, bring a quart of water to boil. Once boiling, salt the water with a handful of kosher salt.

To make the mirepoix, dice in equal parts a total of 1 cup of celery, carrots and onions. Sauté them over low heat in 3 tablespoons of butter. Then add 2 tablespoons of finely diced sweet red pepper, 1 tablespoon of diced garlic and 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley. You can then add ½ cup of the chopped tomatoes from the same can that the juice came from the day before. Now add 3 cups of the veal Ragu and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Add the pasta (cooked the previous day) to the water and boil for 3 or 4 minutes. Finally, toss the sauce with the pappardelle and serve with sliced bread and Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4 with Ragu leftovers to freeze for another use:

5-lb. veal shoulder
2 carrots
3 celery stalks
2 Spanish onions
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups red wine
16-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 sweet red pepper
Flat leaf parsley
½ cup grated Parmesan


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