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Fettucce with Ligurian ‘Tuccu’ Meat Sauce

This is best made the day before and then let to rest overnight. The long cooking time means it is easier to make when you are planning to be at home for most of the day- so great for a lazy weekend lunch with friends. Traditionally the sauce was used to dress the pasta and the piece of meat was then eaten as a second course.

How to do it:
In a large casserole add a few good glugs of EVO and put on the heat. Add the whole piece of beef and as the pan starts to heat up, add the vegetables as you prepare them. You do not need to be too obsessive about minutely dicing the vegetables as they will dissolve into the sauce over the long cooking time, however a little effort on a chopping board to get rough smallish pieces will go a long way. Go heavy on the onions adding at least 3 as they will form the base of the finished sauce and add no more than 1 large carrot and half a stick of celery to them. Add them around the meat in the pan. Add a bay leaf and some fresh rosemary, a few bruised juniper berries and turn the meat as it starts to sizzle. Add some crushed garlic and crumble in a few dried Porcini mushrooms and a handful of pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper and turn up the heat. Keep the meat and vegetables on a high heat until starting to brown. Add a good spoonful of tomato paste and deglaze the pan with the red wine.

Turn the heat down and add enough water to half-cover the contents of the pan. Lightly cover with the pan lid and get on with your day. Come back every so often to check on it, adding more water if needed or turning down the heat if boiling too fiercely. Ideally you would want to aim for a slow simmer. This is where a wood stove or Aga would be ideal.

As it cooks, keep an eye on the color. Although this is what Italians call a ‘sugo rosso’ or ‘red’ sauce, it shouldn’t be too tomatoey. It should end up a rich brown color. However if it is looking a bit pale, you can help it along with a bit of tomato passata or some more tomato paste or concentrate as you tweak it during the cooking time.

There is no getting away from the fact that you need to let it cook for 3 hours at least! Only with this long slow cooking will you get the depth of flavor and thick sauce that makes this dish so special. However you can cheat a bit by starting it off the day before and then finishing the cooking the following day. An overnight melling in its flavors will only do it good.

When the meat is very tender (you should be able to break into it with a spoon) and the vegetables have melted into a thick sauce, fish out the bay leaf and rosemary. Lift the meat out onto a large chopping board. Check the consistency of the sauce. If any large pieces of vegetables are still intact mush them into the sauce using a fork or the back of a wooden spoon.

Leaving aside part of the meat to eat as a second course, chop the remaining piece into small pieces and add back to the sauce. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the Fettucce based on the portion size indicated on the pack and the number of people you are cooking for. Cook for the time indicated on the pack stirring occasionally.

Drain and add to the sauce. Slacken with some of the pasta water if needed. Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve.

What you need
A large piece of aged beef (a cut of your choice suitable for braising)
Dried porcini mushrooms
Pine nuts
Onions
Carrots
Celery
Tomato paste
Tomato passata
Garlic
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Red Wine
Rosemary
Bay leaf
Juniper berries
Black pepper
Parmesan cheese for serving
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