Pienza - Val d'Orcia - Siena - Tuscany

"Brodo" (Meat broth)

recipesBroth is served by itself to prepare the stomach for a larger meal; with fresh pasta such as tagliatini or tortellini (little ravioli); as an ingredient for other recipes such as risotto or for yummy soups (chickpea soup, onion soup, etc); or as almost a medicine to fight a bad cold or an upset stomach. 

Ingredients (for 4 people): 
500g (1 lb) beef
Half a chicken, skin removed 
1 carrot, peeled and chopped 
1 stalk of celery, chopped 
1 medium onion, chopped 
1 ripe tomato, chopped 
2 litres (8.5 cups) cold water 
Fresh Italian (flat–leafed) parsley, 3–4 stems 
Salt to taste (try 1–2 teaspoons, taste before adding too much)

Preparation: 
Cut the beef and chicken into pieces. Put into a large saucepan with the chopped vegetables. Add two litres (8.5 cups) of cold water, the salt, and the parsley (tied into a bunch for easy removal later). Bring to the boiling point and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 1 hour and 30 min. Remove the meat and strain the liquid. If you wish to remove all the grease, it should be left to cool completely first and then put in the refrigerator. The fat will float to the surface, harden, and will be easy to remove.

Liliana's "Ragù" (the sauce of my mother–in–law)

recipe"Ragù, ragù, se non ci fossi tu!" (Ragù, ragù, if you were not there...) well, we should invent you! 
Ragù is the most typical, renowned, popular Italian meat sauce. It's made everywhere, from the North to the South, but each region, each town and village (and each person!!) has its own version. In Tuscany it is used many ways: served on a small bread slice (like a crostino) to start the meal, or stirred into penne pasta with a dusting of parmesan cheese, or layered with béchamel sauce and pasta (lasagne) for a hearty lunch. 

Here you get the wonderful, unique (and, to me, the best!) recipe from my mother–in–law, Liliana, a superb, traditional, Tuscan home cook! 

Ingredients (for 4 people): 
1 red onion, finely chopped 
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped 
1 celery stalk, finely chopped


300 g (10 oz) ground beef
300 g (10 oz) ground pork 
1 fresh pork sausage, skinned (if available)
1 can (14-15 oz) Italian plum tomatoes

1 glass (8 oz) of red wine
Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of sugar
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation: 
Finely chop the carrot, onion, and celery and place in a pot and sautè at medium flame in abundant extra virgin olive oil until it starts to almost caramelize. It sweetens the carrots and onions and gives the sauce a really special flavour! 

Then, add the fresh sausage (removing the skin) breaking it up in the cooked vegetables and brown thoroughly. Add the ground beef and pork, raise the heat, and stir until browned. 

Splash with wine and let the wine evaporate. Add the tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to the minimum and let cook covered for 5 hours, stirring occasionally. 

Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta very well, and then put it back in the pan. Add the pasta sauce and stir to let the sauce flavor the pasta. Serve freshly grated parmesan on the side! 

Tip: 
The real secret of a good ragù is the extremely slow, low heat cooking, for at least 4 hours, but 5-6 hours will be even better! And your home will just smell fragrant and delicious for the whole time! 

You can also add porcini mushrooms or some thinly sliced prosciutto crudo (raw ham) to give a richer taste. 

Ragù freezes very well, so make a large quantity! 


"Burro e Salvia" (sage and butter sauce)

recipesThis super–quick sauce is ideal with gnocchi and any short pasta such as penne, conchiglie, mezze maniche, ...well actually, it is also very good on tagliatelle!! 


Ingredients (for 4 people): 
200g (7 oz) butter 
Bunch of fresh sage leaves, 4-8 leaves per person, according to size of leaf
¼ – ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, according to your taste 
Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation: 
Wash and dry the sage leaves. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the sage. Cook gently, taking care not to let the butter burn too long (but the sage must fry for a few minutes!). 

Pour the butter sauce over the pasta which has been cooked in salted water, add the parmesan cheese, and stir together well with some freshly grated parmesan. Remove from the heat and stir in a good helping of grated Parmesan cheese. The sauce should look smooth and creamy. Grind black pepper over the top when serving. 

Tip: 
This really simple sauce is the best one for gnocchi and ravioli with ricotta and spinach filling! You will LOVE it! 

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