- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pappardelle is a funny name for a wide noodle. The word comes from an Italian verb that means “to gobble up,” which may be exactly what you want to do after you make this dish.

In Italy the noodle is often paired with wild boar or hare sauces. This recipe, a lighter take on that Italian classic, is robust and satisfying yet lighter than game-based sauces.

The veal stewing meat becomes meltingly tender, and the sauce thickens beautifully. Pappardelle noodles are wide ribbons and are just right for the sauce to cling to. These noodles do best with a thick sauce that can handle their size.

It’s best to cook the pappardelle until al dente and then mix with some of the sauce to infuse the flavor into the noodles. Then serve it in shallow bowls topped with more of the veal ragu and a showering of freshly grated cheese.

To drink? Try a bold flavored zinfandel, Chianti or a sangiovese. Begin with a sliced fennel salad, and for dessert consider fruit flavored Italian sorbet.

Remember that fresh pappardelle cooks much faster than dried, so cook accordingly; reserve some of the pasta water for finishing the dish.

Make sure that you or your butcher cut the meat into 1/2-inch cubes. You can also make this with lamb stew meat.

Bring a wedge of pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano to the table with a grater and serve each guest a fresh sprinkling of cheese.

The sauce freezes, so make up a double batch and save some for a rainy day.

Veal ragu on pappardelle

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1/4 cup olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 pound pancetta, thickly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 pounds veal shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 cup dry red wine

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth

Rosemary leaf

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 teaspoon balsamic glaze or syrup, or 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 pound pappardelle

Freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese

In a large, heavy Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery and red pepper, and cook until softened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add salt and pepper. Remove to a side bowl and reserve.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the Dutch oven and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the pancetta pieces and brown for about 3 minutes. Add the veal pieces and brown the meat evenly by turning it, about 10 minutes.

Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan by scraping up any browned bits. Add the reserved cooked vegetables, tomatoes, broth, rosemary and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat is very tender. Add the balsamic glaze or vinegar, and taste for seasoning.

Cook the pappardelle according to the directions on the package. Drain the pappardelle, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid. Place the pasta in a large deep skillet. Add half of the meat sauce and some of the pasta liquid and toss with tongs to evenly coat. Cook another minute. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and then spoon on the remaining sauce. Grate the cheese on top and serve.

Advance preparation: The sauce may be made 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Reheat gently. The sauce can also be frozen for up to 2 months.


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