This simple, savory ragu combines my favorite elements of a classic Bolognese ragu (the milk and red wine) with my favorite elements of a southern Italian-style ragu (the spicy sausage and garlic).
If you have a rind from a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano on hand, throw it into the ragu pot to lend additional richness, then remove it before tossing with the pasta.
See our recipe for handmade garganelli
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, minced (1/4 cup)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 basil leaves or 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
- ¾ pound spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
- ¾ pound ground beef chuck
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups chopped canned Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
- 1 cup whole or 2% milk
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Rind from Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano (optional)
For the pasta and to serve:
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 pound garganelli (see recipe below)
- ¼ pound freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
Make the ragù: Place the olive oil, onion, garlic, and basil in a 10-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the sausage and beef, and cook until browned all over, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Be sure to let the meat develop a deep brown color at this stage, or the ragu will taste flabby instead of rich.
Add the wine and then, after 5 minutes, the broth, tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. If you have a cheese rind, add it at this point and make sure it is fully submerged in the liquid.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat 1 and ½ hours, making sure the sauce never scorches and adding a bit of water as needed to the pan. Discard the bay leaf and the cheese rind. Adjust the seasoning and keep the sauce warm. (The sauce can be made up to this point 2 days in advance; refrigerate until needed, then warm gently before proceeding.)
Make the pasta: Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and the pasta, and cook until al dente; drain, reserving 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.
Add the pasta to the sauce and sauté over high heat for 1 minute. Stir in the Parmigiano, and add some of the reserved pasta cooking water if needed to thin out the sauce. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot.