I’m continuing my love affair with Umbria with one of the best pasta sauces I’ve ever had; an irresistably rich celebration of beef, sausage, and rosemary. This is an alternative to ragu Bolognese you’ll be glad you tried.

Umbria is the land of many of the best things about Italy: porchetta, truffles, and sausages. Because it’s landlocked, the people of Umbria make the best use of the bounty of the earth, and it shows in this rosemary-heavy ragu.

Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com

A lot of people may know that rosemary originally came from the Mediterranean area, so it features heavily in the cuisines of Italy, Greece, Spain, and the Levant, but not a lot of people know that rosemary grows wild in the deserts of the American Southwest, and thrives as native landscaping too.

Because of that, for me, this pasta sauce tastes like late summer afternoons in Palm Springs: warm and sunny, with wild bunnies eating dinner on the golf courses and the fragrance of rosemary bushes hovering in the air where the wind dies down. It’s the perfect summer pasta for perfect summer nights, or any season, really.

Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com

This recipe was inspired by a very traditional Umbrian recipe called Ragu di Chianina, which is a ragu of a particular breed of cow. Like most of Umbria’s famous foods, Chianina beef never really leaves Italy, so our version won’t taste quite the same, but we can still be inspired by the process and celebration of beefiness that is this ragu, which is still unabashedly beefy and delicious.

Where do you buy bone marrow?

Bone marrow can usually be bought as soup bones in the frozen section of most grocery stores, or the meat counter will often have some in the back if you ask. I made this sauce twice though. Once with the bone marrow and once without. It tastes just great without as well, so the bone marrow is definitely an optional component. It adds a huge layer of deep richness, so I wouldn’t skip it, but I also wouldn’t drive across town to get the bones. I also made this both with hand cut angus beef and lean ground beef. If you look carefully, you can see that the photos are mixed together. It wasn’t enough of a difference to recommend taking that trouble, either.

Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com

How do you make ragu?

1. Cook your aromatics over medium low heat until they are golden brown.

Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com

2. Add and very briefly sauté your meats

Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com

3. Add wine and reduce, add tomato sauce, stock, and herbs

Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com

5. Simmer for 2 hours

Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com

And that’s it.

Tips and tricks for the best pasta

I remember a long time ago I could never get pasta to taste like it does in restaurants, even though I followed dozens of different recipes. It turned out I was making a few simple mistakes, the fixes to which are basically summarized below:

1. Choose high quality canned tomatoes. My favorite brand that’s widely available is Mutti.
2. Cook covered on low heat for a couple of hours. If your pasta sauce tastes like prego or ragu brand, you probably need to give it another 30 minutes.
3. Reduce your wine thoroughly. For a long time, my pasta tasted very wine-y when I made it, because I didn’t give the wine enough time. Once you move onto adding other ingredients, the wine won’t reduce properly, so be sure to give it a minute or two of boiling off before you add the tomato sauce and beef broth.
4. Deeply brown your soffritto low and slow. On the subject of giving your ingredients enough time to cook, the soffritto needs the most time. Most recipes tell you to just sauté the aromatics and move onto the next step, but really, the aromatics are the most important step and form the base of your flavors, so take your time on them.
5. Add the appropriate amount of cheese. Which is to say, a lot. I like to go with 1/4 cup of grated cheese (unpacked) per plate of pasta. This is the real tip right here, most people just lightly dust the top of the pasta with parmesan, but it should be closer to at least half an ounce of cheese per portion.

Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com

This was a really good ragu that I plan on coming back to again and again. If you’re a fan of rosemary, this one is for you.

#thatnoodlelife

Mike

Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com

Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary

Serves 4
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot minced, about 1/3 cup
  • 1 celery minced, about 1/3 cup
  • 1/2 medium onion minced, about 1 cup
  • 8 oz ground beef
  • 8 oz mild Italian sausage removed from casing
  • 3 marrow bones about 1lb
  • 1/2 cup Italian white wine such as pinot grigio
  • 1 14oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup no sodium chicken stock or beef stock/water
  • 4 oz pecorino toscana finely grated, or parmigiano reggiano

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan or pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, and celery, and cook until golden brown and translucent, 5 minutes. Season very lightly with salt and pepper.
    Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the sausage and beef. Season very lightly with salt and pepper again, then break up the sausage into small chunks and cook for 3 minutes.
    Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Add the wine and reduce by half, 1 minute or so, then add the marrow bone if using, making small pools so that the bones sit on the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes, rosemary and bay leaf, and enough stock to cover the top of the marrow bones, about 1 cup.
    Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Turn the heat up to high to bring to a boil, then reduce the heat down to low and cover. Simmer for 2 hours. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
    Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • When you are ready to eat, pop out the bone marrow with a small spoon or the back of a wooden spoon and stir it in along with the cheese over low heat. Cook your pasta 1 minute shy of al dente, then drain and transfer to sauce. Toss lightly, then serve with chopped rosemary, pepper flakes, and cheese, as desired.
    Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary | www.iamafoodblog.com

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Umbria Inspired Bone Marrow Ragu with Rosemary
Amount Per Serving
Calories 618 Calories from Fat 340
% Daily Value*
Fat 37.8g58%
Saturated Fat 14.6g91%
Cholesterol 116mg39%
Sodium 1141mg50%
Potassium 1585mg45%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Fiber 7.7g32%
Sugar 1.9g2%
Protein 43.8g88%
Calcium 489mg49%
Iron 16mg89%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Thanks for reading as always!
-Steph & Mike