This is the 6th post in my monthly Bon Appétit series.
Bon Appétit Series Background Recap: I was tired of reading their magazine each month, saying, “Oh that looks great, I’ll make that”, then the magazine ends up in the cupboard or trash, never to been seen again. Never more! Now I’m holding myself publicly accountable; each month I will cook at least one recipe from Bon Appétit and post it on here.
This month’s recipe, Whole Grain Spaghetti with Beef and Sausage Ragu, is actually from the May issue, but cut me some slack. I already have June and July’s issues and am deciding what the next post will be.
My mom actually made this ragu as soon as the magazine arrived, and my dad talked about it for days, so right away it was a candidate. Braised beef shanks sealed the deal. I’ve never cooked with them, they are inexpensive, and I have this new 7 quart cast iron Dutch oven which has single handedly improved my cooking. $75 at the factory outlet and it will last you forever and ever. Plus, it looks like you are cooking with a cauldron, which has some sort of raw appeal that I dig.
Below is what this is supposed to look like. We’ll see how the home cook measures up!
There isn’t much prep, which is nice for a change. Chop some onions, some garlic, and remove the casings from the hot Italian sausage. I find that a sharp, serrated knife is the easiest way to remove the casings.
Break up the sausage and start cooking.
Continue to break the sausage up with the back of your spoon.
If you are having trouble breaking the sausage up, I find that using a pasta scoop that has a somewhat sharp point on the claws works very well. Stab the spikes downwards and drag it through the sausage, and also with the tips pointed down, stir the sausage with the utensil. I use this same method when I make my chili, and it’s quite effective.
Next we sear the outside of the shanks, just a few minutes on each side. Season each side well with salt and pepper. I should note that I cut the recipe in roughly 2/3. I didn’t measure exactly, but I didn’t have quite enough shanks or sausage and I still ended up with enough ragu for 10 servings.
A nice crust formed on the shanks. Just a few minutes each side.
Then with all the meat removed, I sautéed the onions and scraped up all the bits of beefy goodness.
Finally you add the tomatoes, garlic, spices, wine, and the meat back to the pot and put it in the oven at 350 for 2.5 hours. Below is how it looked after 1 hour or so.
Once it’s done in the oven, you remove the beef shanks and chop them up and put them back in the pot and simmer until the sauce is a bit thicker. The meat was falling off the shank so I had to fish a few out of the pot with some tongs.
I would have pictures of the shank removal/chopping process, but during the shank cutting, I cut off the tip of my thumb. It hurt like hell and I bled for while. After wrapping it with paper towels, applying pressure, holding it over my head, and slugging two beers, it stopped bleeding and I was able to continue.
I threw out the two shanks I had been cutting, cleaned my cutting board, and finished chopping the rest of the shank meat with one hand, using my nasty serial killer cleaver, somewhat maniacally I might add. It was actually extremely effective for a rough chop and I was pissed I didn’t do this from the get go.
So below is the final dish. Whole wheat spaghetti, tossed with parmigiano-reggiano, chopped basil and Italian parsley, and topped with the ragu. I’ve been eating it for most meals for two days now (including a 11PM snack last night) and it is damn good. Rich and salty flavor, somewhat fatty (I mean that in a good way) sausage and beef, with just enough tomato to make it a good enough spaghetti topping. I highly recommend trying this one. Just watch your fingers.