I love my mamma. When I was growing up, she would say to me that no matter what I do in life or become, she will always love me. I am fortunate enough to still have her in my life, talk to her on the phone every day and see her a couple of times a week. She is my priority now that my father has passed. I love how fiery and in some ways independent she has become now that she is on her own for the first time in over 60 years.
And she still loves to cook! Every time we chat the conversation will invariably move to the subject of food and the food she has cooked for herself that day. Now that the weather in Melbourne is cold, she has started making hearty soups and her very popular sugo is on high rotation. Mamma’s meat sugo is very much loved by anyone who has tried it though none of us can quite master the art of making it. My niece Claire wrote a lovely post about it on her blog Melbourne Gastronome a few weeks back.
Mamma recently made a fantastic veal ragù using some milk-fed veal that my sister had brought her from the Prahran market. We ate it with fusilli and I must confess, I had two serves of the sauce after I had eaten the pasta. Mamma was so happy that I’ d had three serves that she told my sister who repeated it back to me the next day. Good news travels fast!!
This weekend we celebrate our mothers and everything they have done for us so I am sharing with you her recipe for veal ragù. She told me the ingredients, which I jotted down on the back of an envelope, and her cooking method, which I tried to replicate last night. It is not the recipe for her regular sugo – I have been sworn to secrecy on that one – but it is very very good. In it she uses Ariosto, an Italian seasoning for meats. It is one of her secret ingredients. I buy it at the local italian supermarket. We ate it with some soft yellow polenta and lots of parmigiano cheese scattered over it. Let’s all celebrate our wonderful and unique mothers, even if they are no longer with us, by remembering a special meal they made for us. And for all the mothers reading this – tanti auguri per la festa della mamma (happy Mother’s Day)!
Before I share the recipe, I would like to tell you about Savoring Italy, a blog run by US based Lora and Megan, which showcases the best and most authentic of the aromas of Italy. Lora found me through Twitter and asked me to do a podcast for Savoring Italy, which I was very excited about doing. It was published yesterday and the link to the podcast is here. In it I talk about why I started my blog, the story of my parents migrating from Italy and Italian food culture in Melbourne now. Please have a look – there are lots of other great things on Lora and Megan’s blog including my scallop and asparagus salad and many other podcasts and stories about the tastes of Italy throughout the world.
Ragù di vitello della mamma (Mamma's veal ragu)
1 kg veal shoulder, diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
3 brown onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 and 1/2 glasses dry white wine
1/2 can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsps Ariosto “per carne” (for meats)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for cooking
Add a good glug olive oil (about 1/4 cup) to a large heavy bottom saucepan with a lid. Place the carrot, celery and onion in the pan and cook on low to medium heat for around twenty minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing the vegetables to soften rather than brown. Next add the veal and increase the heat to medium high. Brown the meat all over, stirring frequently and after a few minutes, add the wine. Continue cooking, reducing the heat to medium, allowing the wine to evaporate for a few minutes. Next add the tomato, the nutmeg, the bay leaves and the Ariosto. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low and cover, allowing the meat to continue cooking slowly for around an hour and. half, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The ragù is done when it is tender (practically falling apart). Discard the bay leaves and serve with soft polenta or pasta and scatter on plenty of parmigiano.