Purists call this dish white ragu pappardelle pasta; others call it white bolognese (which makes the purists mad). The point isn’t the name (it tastes just as good no matter what you call it). And, much as I love tomato sauces, the white sauce is a tasty change from the usual red one.
It starts with onions and carrots, then adds ground beef and sausage, which is simmered gently with porcini mushrooms, white wine, and a touch of cream. Soooo good.
I first made this right after Pesach, when the urge to eat starch (and lots of it) is strong, so I splurged for fresh pappardelle pasta. Being on an involuntary low-carb diet is no fun! Since I was using fresh pasta, it takes less time to cook than the dried version. If you use dried pasta, allow 10 minutes or so to boil the water and another 8 minutes or so to cook the pasta. Fresh pasta only needs a couple of minutes. If you can’t get pappardelle, rigatoni will work fine. You want a substantial pasta with bite (angel hair won’t do here).
The original recipe calls for dried porcini mushrooms, which I didn’t have. So, I substituted fresh ones. If you use the dried version, add the soaking liquid to the sauce instead of the water. The pasta water at the end thickens the sauce (with the starch from the cooked pasta).
I made a few other changes too. As a commenter rightly pointed out, the onions and carrots take different amounts of time to cook, so they shouldn’t be added all at once. First the onions, then the carrots. Also, I never have beef bouillon cubes (the ingredients make me wince) so I used beef stock instead.
White ragu papardelle is a fun and delicious change from the usual red sauce.
2 T olive oil
2 T onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into small chunks
2-3 porcini mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 mild Italian sausage (you can use pork sausage or chicken sausage), chopped up (take the casing off)
1/4 pound ground beef
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 C beef stock
3/4 C water
1 1/4 T heavy cream
1/4 pound pappardelle (plus 2 quarts of water to boil the pasta)
2 T freshly ground Parmigiano cheese
Add the oil to a wide, deep frying pan (the wider the better, so there’s more surface area to reduce the liquids faster) on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the diced onion. Cook for a minute.
Then add the carrots, and the mushrooms, and sauté about five minutes or so. The veggies should be slightly tender, but not soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Then add the cut up sausage and the ground beef (break up the beef into small pieces, so there are no clumps of meat; you want it distributed throughout the pan). Cook that until the meat is all thoroughly browned.
Add the wine and let the liquid cook down until it is nearly dry. Now add the beef stock and lower the heat from medium-high to medium. Let it simmer (just bubbling) until the stock has practically evaporated and then add the 3/4 cup of water. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes.
Taste it and add more salt and pepper if necessary. The sauce should be slightly runny, (think stroganoff, but Italian).
Take the pan off the stove, away from the heat, and add the cream (folding it into the sauce). Cover the pot to keep it warm.
Put two quarts of water in a medium size saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then add the pasta. Cook 2-3 minutes for fresh pasta, 8-10 for dried. When the pasta is nearly cooked, remove a ladleful of the pasta water and set it aside in a bowl.
Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot you used to cook it. Add the ragu sauce and stir it gently. Add the pasta water you set aside in the last step.
Serve with grated cheese.
Note: if you use dried mushrooms, soak them in the 3/4 C water and add them (and the water you soaked them in) after you add the stock.
White Ragu Papardelle Pasta Substitutions and Variations
Substitute bacon or pancetta for the sausage
Swap ground veal and pork for the beef and sausage
If you like venison or boar, those would work too
Add a few cloves of garlic and top with basil when you serve it
Don’t want sausage or beef? Use ground turkey instead (add a bit more fat to the pan)