True ragù is a magnificent pasta sauce, a slow-simmered blend of meat, tomatoes and, usually, milk. The real thing takes hours, for the meat must become tender and contribute its silkiness to the sauce, the tomatoes must dissolve, and the milk must pull the whole thing together. But a reasonable approximation of ragù can be produced using ground beef or pork or, even better, prepared Italian sausage.
Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage, removed from casing if necessary
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound pasta
- At least 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Put the oil in a 10-inch skillet, and turn the heat to medium; a minute later, add the onion. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage in bits, and turn the heat to medium high; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is nicely browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add milk and tomato paste, along with some salt and pepper; stir to blend, and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until thickened but not dry. Keep it warm if necessary, and if it becomes too thick, add a little more milk or water.
Meanwhile, salt the water and cook the pasta. When pasta is tender but not mushy, drain it. Toss with sauce and Parmesan; taste, adjust seasoning and serve.