Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mark Bittman's Thirty-Minute Ragù: Simple & Delicious Comfort Food!

Mark Bittman's Thirty-Minute Ragù make not seem like the the most summer-like dish for humid August, but it's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, our time to make any Bittman dish we like and this week, I am liking comfort food. I had a pound of ground beef from Maui, no desire to go to the store and a big craving for a bowl of pasta, so I consulted the "How to Cook Everything" iPhone application and found I had everything I needed to make this recipe. I am sure it is in the HTCE book too--I'm just way too lazy to drag it out and look up the page number. ;-)

This sauce comes together quickly and has great flavor--especially if you add some extra ingredients as I did, in red below. I have a hard time not adding extras to my pasta sauces, and garlic and anchovy paste always add a greater depth of flavor that I like. Served on some fresh tagliatelle I had on hand in the fridge, with some fluffy grated pecorino-Romano cheese and a little fresh basil from the container garden, it was a perfect dinner to curl up in front of the fan (it's a bit humid this week!) and eat while watching a little Top Chef.

Thirty-Minute Ragù
adapted from "How to Cook Everything"

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8-12 oz ground meat (I used Maui ground beef)
1 can (28 ounce) whole plum tomatoes, with the juice
2 tsp anchovy paste
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup cream

1 lb pasta of choice
freshly grated pecorino-Romano cheese to garnish
fresh basil to garnish

Put the olive oil in a large, deep skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender about 5 minutes. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps, until all traces of red are gone, about 5 minutes.

Crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands and add them to the pot. Add the anchovy paste, tomato paste, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low and stirring occasionally, cook the tomatoes until they just start to break down, about 15 minutes. Add the cream and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Meanwhile cook pasta, drain and toss with the ragu. Garnish with freshly grated pecorino Romano, chopped fresh basil and serve.

Notes/Results: Creamy, meaty, and full of rich tomato flavor, this is a delicious comfort food dish. I think adding the additional ingredients really added to overall flavor and made it perfect for me. The local ground beef was fresh, juicy and flavorful and the crushed red pepper flakes gave it a happy little kick. Beings that it is a fairly quick dish that is low-effort and soothing to make, it made me a happy camper after a busy day. I will definitely make this again.

In addition to Potluck at IHCC, I'm sending this ragù to this week's Presto Pasta Nights, being hosted by Siri from Siri's Corner. She will be rounding up a bunch of delicious pasta creations at her blog on Friday and of course you can check out the fabulous potluck creations at IHCC by going to the site (here) and following the links.

BTW--Don't forget I am giving away 2 autographed copies of the fun Hawaii foodie mystery: "Captain Cooked"--along with a few local ingredients to help you cook some of the fabulous recipes in the book. Get the details on how to enter here.



  1. That is one seriously sexy dish! I am coming right over, and I am bringing the vino!

  2. Oooh, I need to check out that iPhone app. I seem to miss all the best ones! This is just the kind of thing I'm in the mood for. It looks delicious!

  3. I love your additions! I wonder if there is an android app??

  4. That is some awesome comfort food! Your pasta looks so fresh...the ragu so comforting...and the fresh basil scattered around it is the icing on the cake! Great pick =)

  5. I'd love to curl up with a plate of this and a good tv show! It's the best comfort food!

  6. I agree with Natashya, sexy it is! Love pasta, love it...this sauce looks rich.

  7. Long time since my last visit n I c i missed quiet a lot of yummy dishes.
    Tis is a kind of comfort food to me...though I do not eat beef..but wudn't mind tossing this pasta wit ground chicken..n beleive it wud taste g8 still.
    Love ur colorful click, tempts me more.

  8. I can't believe the original recipe didn't have garlic!

  9. I second Natashya's comment. Three-way date? I'll bring some vino. And some ice cream.

  10. I could do with that for breakfast right about now. Yummy!

  11. This ragu sounds just perfect on our rainy day here and I was just wondering what to do with my ground meat I was defrosting for today, thanks!

  12. Deb, what a great dish - and I'm totally with you on the addition of anchovy and garlic - I would do exactly the same. Don't you just love that iPhone app?! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Love Mark Bittman, love all your additions and love that you shared with Presto Pasta Nights.

  14. Sounds like a winner Deb. I like the picture of you curled up in front of the fan! Comfort food is good even in the summertime.

  15. Nothing better than pasta in my book! Good choice for a potluck.

  16. My boys had something similar to this for dinner last night (on a hot, humid August night too!) comfort is definitely the word.


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