Recipe: Quick Bucatini with Ragu

Pasta is a rarity in our household, but once in a great while we make an exception for it. When we do, it always feels like a decadent treat, and this dish is a perfect example. When I think about a dinner, my mind first goes to the sauce, and there are few sauces that inspire me as much as a hearty ragu. Bucatini is a perfect vehicle for this meat-based sauce, which will cling easily to the thicker noodles.

The other great thing about ragu is that there is no universal recipe for it. In this instance, I went with something similar to a bolognese sauce, utilizing a standard mirepoix and ground beef. You could easily make a few substitutions to suit your preference here, depending on what you have available. For instance, substitute half or all of the beef for ground pork or turkey. Using a cup of water instead of wine is perfectly fine, especially if you don’t care to open a bottle of wine just for cooking.

One of the best things about learning to cook is the boost of confidence you’ll gain once you learn the fundamentals of a recipe. Being able to make small modifications or substitutions to experiment with can be fun and rewarding. If you don’t feel like you’re at this point yet, though, this recipe is a tried-and-true success. You can serve it on its own, but it would also be perfect with a small side salad.

A few final tips here. Chop the mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) as small as you would like – the ideal size is small bites.  Use a pair of tongs to handle the pasta, as it will give you greater control when moving it around in the boiling water as well as when you mix it with the sauce. Reserving the water is crucial – you can either ladle off a few spoonfuls before draining the pot, or ‘catch’ the water through the colander with a small bowl as you’re draining it.

Finally, don’t skimp on applying the reserved water and butter near the end – it will loosen the sauce and create a smooth and beautiful consistency.

Quick Bucatini with Ragu

Get dinner on the table in under 30 minutes with this simple, but hearty pasta recipe. 

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 lb ground chuck
  • 10 ounces bucatini pasta
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese

Instructions

Prep the Veggies

  1. Wash and dry all produce. Peel and finely chop garlic, onion, and carrot. Finely chop celery. Pick basil leaves from stems and roughly tear into smaller pieces.

    chopped ingredients for recipe

Cook the Bucatini

  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. While you work on the sauce, add the pasta to the pot and cook 8-10 minutes or until al dente. 

  2. Drain the pasta, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Remove from heat and return pasta to pot. Set aside until sauce is complete.

Make the Sauce

  1. In a large pot or high-sided pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add garlic, carrot, celery and onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook 4-6 minutes or until onion is soft and translucent. Stirring occasionally.

  2. Add the ground chuck and season with salt and pepper. Cook 4-6 minutes or until brown and cooked through. Stir frequently, breaking up meat with a spoon.

  3. Add tomato sauce and 1 cup of dry white wine to the pan, season with salt and pepper. Raise heat to high until simmering, then reduce heat to medium-high. Cook 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. 

Finish and Plate

  1. Transfer pan sauce to pasta pot and add butter and half of the basil. Add half of the reserved pasta cooking water, and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high, stirring vigorously to coat the pasta. If sauce seems dry, add the remaining pasta cooking water.

    bucatini ragu in pot
  2. Divide finished pasta between four bowls. Garnish with remaining basil and grated cheese. 

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