This time last year I was making last minute preparations for a dream trip to Florence, Italy. I love to try new foods while travling and my preparations included making a list of foods I wanted to try while there. Pappardelle with Cinghiale Sauce is a pasta with a meat sauce made with cinghiale, or wild boar and was at the top of the list. My BFF Amy and I had a lovely lunch on our first full (and I do mean full) day in Florence at Le Antiche Carrozze where I was able to sample this classic Tuscan dish. I loved the flavor of the cinghiale sauce and that it was simple, yet rich and complex at the same time.
Fast forward a year later and I come across Not-a-Boar Meat Sauce and Pasta in the February issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. Now, I am not the biggest RR fan and it was painful for me to type Not-A-Boar, not once, but three times now, but I really enjoyed this recipe. Ground beef and pork replace the wild boar and a mixture of cocoa, thyme, bay leaf, and allspice (or clove) provide the complexity of flavor. Rachel calls this dish a fake-out and while it didn't mirror the memory of the pasta I had in Florence, it was very, very good. I would reduce the amount of pasta and the amount of chicken stock by half as the sauce was a little thinner than I would have liked. I also substituted Parmesan for the Pecorino but that was out of necessity and not choice because I fell in love with Pecornio cheeses while there too...
Not-a-Boar Meat Sauce and Pasta
Everyday with Rachael Ray, February 2010
1 pound rigatoni pasta or broken curly-edge lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound ground pork
3/4 pound ground beef
1 small carrot, finely chopped or grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 sprigs thyme, stems discarded and leaves finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 pinches ground cloves or allspice
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine (eyeball it)
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
While the pasta is working, in a dutch oven or heavy pot, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the pork and beef and cook, stirring, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the carrot, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, cocoa and cloves; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. S tir in the tomato paste for 1 minute, then stir in the wine. Stir in the chicken stock and milk, lower the heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. D iscard the bay leaf.
Stir the pasta into the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the cheese to coat. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls.