Chef Bridget Batson made one of the best pastas I have ever had when she and I worked at TWO, successor to Hawthorne Lane. It’s simple to make as long as you have a meat grinder. She used 100% veal breast, but I like to add a little pork for that piggy goodness. The sauce freezes well, so don’t worry about having leftover.
2 lbs. 12 oz. veal stew meat, cubed to fit through the grinder
12 oz. pork shoulder, similarly cubed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped, about 6 oz.
2 large ribs celery, chopped, about 6 oz.
3 medium large onions, peeled and chopped, about 1 1/2 lbs.
1 bunch fresh basil, about 1 oz. of leaves
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, about 1 1/2 oz. of leaves
6 large cloves garlic, about 1 1/2 oz.
1 bottle sherry wine, 750 ml
3 pints canned crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, about 3 oz.
Prepare all ingredients, then toss everything except the sherry and tomatoes together to combine.
Grind through the medium die of a meat grinder. This is a good thing to look for at garage sales and flea markets, or about $50 new.
Transfer the ground mixture to a suitable pot, and place over high heat. Lots of liquid will come out of the meat and vegetables. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking.
Reduce the heat to medium as the mixture begins to dry out, and scrap the bottom and sides to prevent burning.
Wen the mixture is completely dry, add the sherry, and return the heat to high. Scrape all of the dried liquid up into the sherry until the pan is clean, then reduce the heat to medium and reduce until the liquid is gone.
Add the canned tomatoes, I use my crushed San Marzano tomatoes, and I think that ripe tomatoes make a big difference. Look for high quality at Whole Foods.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until the flavors come together, about a half hour. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cool and reserve until you are ready to serve. It also freezes well at this stage.
I like the little nests of dried papardelle from DeCecco, but fresh pasta sheets are better if you can find them. Cook in well-salted water as directed on the package, reserving about 3/4 cup of the pasta water, then drain and return to the pot.
Add the warm sauce and the cheese and abut 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Place over medium heat, and stir gently to combine. The cheese should melt into the liquid, and the pasta should absorb most of the liquid.
Correct seasoning to taste then transfer to warm plates, and top with a generous dollop of ricotta cheese, preferably basket ricotta with a high fat content and low water content.