Pici al Ragu di Carne: An Italian Pasta Recipe
In my recent travels through Tuscany, I visited this little village on top of a hill called Sant’Angelo in Colle in Montalcino, where Mazzoni Wines are produced. I had an amazing lunch at Trattoria il Leccio, where they specialize in the region’s famous pasta called “Pici,” which is a longer, thicker version of spaghetti with a wild boar ragu sauce.
I told the owner that I wrote a blog about Italian cooking and he invited me into the kitchen to see how Pici is made. His Nonna (grandmother) was in the kitchen making this regional pasta and she showed me the process and gave me tips on how to roll and stretch the pasta perfectly.
Over the burners on the stove was a large pot of ragu that had been simmering for hours. She walked me through a recipe and told me, “Devi avere pazienza,” or “Be patient.” The sauce takes over two hours to become so rich and delicious.
To bring a little bit of Montalcino to the United States, we’ve provided you with a traditional Pici recipe below. With this recipe, I hope you’ll make your own fresh pasta. There is a great tutorial here if you’ve never made Pici before. Don’t be afraid of the dough; not only will you impress your guests, but you’ll notice the difference in the taste and texture of this special dish.
If you can’t find wild boar or don’t have time to make your own pasta, you’re welcome to substitute braise pork or beef and the thickest spaghetti you can find.
Pici al Ragu di Carne
Pair with: Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana
6 oz. ground boar
6 oz. ground veal
28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
3 oz. thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/2 cup Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana
3 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup whole milk
1 lb. Pici pasta
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, and onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the pancetta and stir for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for one minute.
2. Add the veal and boar and saute. Break up the meat with a flat wooden spoon. Stir until browned, about 15 minutes.
3. Add the wine and stir until it evaporates completely. Scrape the browned bits from the pot and stir in the San Marzano tomatoes. Add 2 1/2 cups of the chicken stock.
4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
5. In a small saucepan bring the milk to a low simmer and slowly add the sauce.
6. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of stock if needed to thin the sauce. Taste again for seasoning and remove from the heat.
7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute before al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Transfer ragu to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pasta and toss to coat. Stir in some of the reserved pasta water if needed.
8. Plate the pasta on individual warm plates. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Influenced by memories in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, Italian-born Francesco Romano is the man behind the food blog, Coco de Mama. He shares recipes and culinary knowledge with Mazzoni fans each month.