Pasta with Turkey Ragu alla Bolognese-Style
Serves 4 to 6
There seems to be as many different recipes for pasta with ragu alla Bolognese as there are Italian cooks. One of the differences is the type of meat used. This is my latest version, using ground turkey instead of the typical beef and pork, as in my recipe in the similar and related links. I love the flavor of the turkey, and the resulting sauce is not quite as heavy and rich. The first time I made this recipe, I used homemade noodle dough (see the similar and related recipes) and it was so good. I still do that now and then, but dried pasta, white, multigrain or whole wheat, works every bit as well.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely chopped
- 1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 pound ground turkey (see notes below)
- 6 large cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1/2 cup milk (can use low or nonfat)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 pound fresh or dried pappardelli, or other long, wide noodle (see notes below)
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped or torn fresh basil
- Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Sauté the onions, carrots and celery until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pancetta, turkey and garlic. Break the ground meat apart as it cooks. Cook just until it is no longer pink. Add the wine, tomatoes and water. Season with the thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Let come to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook very gently for about 2 hours, partially covered. Check occasionally and add some water if it dries out or gets too thick. Add the milk and nutmeg. Simmer, but do not boil, for another 10 minutes or until the milk is combined with the sauce. Stir in the fresh basil. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package or recipe directions for al dente. Drain; place in a serving bowl. Spoon enough sauce over the pasta to cover well and to combine. (You probably will not need all of the sauce for one pound of pasta. The remainder can be frozen for future use.) Serve immediately, passing the cheese separately.
Notes: If preferred, a tubular pasta shape such as penne rigate can be used. If you cannot find pancetta, omit it. The packages of ground turkey in my grocery store weigh 1.3 pounds, but other stores may pack it in one pound amounts. Either is just fine. I prefer 93% lean for the flavor, but you can use a leaner mix if desired.