Tortelli lucchese

Any foods prepared in Lucca, Italy are automatically known as “lucchese.”
Makes sense, right?
 I’ve discovered to my absolute delight that one of the most well-known and delicious primi piatti on many menus in Lucca is special type of meat ravioli. What sets this pasta apart immediately is that has a very bright yellow color, for, as it turns out, it is made with eggs and flour. Typically, pasta in Tuscany isn’t made with eggs; such pastas are more common up north, the traditionally wealthier section of Italy.
But, this lovely pasta fresca is rolled, cut in circles, and stuffed with a mixture of meats often including beef and pork, and served with a meat ragu.

Then there is the whole discussion of ragu. The most popular and widely used sauce in all of Italy is simply known as ragu. Most foreigners think of ragu as a tomato-based sauce, but it is actually a meat-based sauce, with only a small amount of tomato sauce or paste added.

Ragu is usually served with pasta. It often begins with a soffritto, or chopped onions, celery, carrots, and typical seasonings of salt and pepper. Minced beef is added, browned and then the sauce is simmered slowly for several hours to let all the flavors marry, as they say.  I’ve always thought that was a weird use of the word marry, but what do I know?

Italian cuisine is famous for its simplicity and variety with cheese and wine as major components of every Italian food recipe. It is also known for its pasta of different shapes, lengths, and widths and sauces with different ingredients.

Compared to other sauces it is thicker and made creamier by adding milk at the later stage of cooking. It has several different versions, and lamb, poultry, fish, veal, or pork can be used instead of ground beef. Other spices like chilies, peppers, beans, tarragon, and cumin can also be added.

Ragu alla Barese is prepared using horse meat; Ragu alla Napoletana has a lot of tomatoes and uses red wine; Ragu alla Bolognese uses white wine and fewer tomatoes. Ragu alla Bolognese or Bolognese sauce is the most popular version of ragu.

Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna, Italy and dates back to the 15th century. It is a pasta sauce that is meat based and contains a small amount of tomato sauce. It is traditionally served with tagliatelle, green lasagna, and other wide-shaped pasta instead of spaghetti pasta because the sauce holds up better with wider pasta.

Its ingredients include beef, soffritto, pancetta, onions, tomato paste, meat broth, white wine, and cream or milk. Like all other food preparations, Bolognese sauce has different variations. Pork, chicken, veal, rabbit, goose, and other meats can be used instead of beef.

The soffritto is made with celery, carrots, and onions cooked in butter or olive oil. Mushrooms, ham, and sausage are also added together with milk or cream to add more flavors and give it more creaminess. It is usually simmered for at least five hours.

One thought on “Tortelli lucchese

  1. Mmmmm, maybe ragu for lunch today in Sonoma, with little red wine. Thank you for the background on that delicious Italian dish.

    We leave California tomorrow and arrive back in Seattle late Tuesday night. When do you get back?

    I’ve signed on for a bit more at the Garden, and will be at meetings on Wednesday-Friday. Rumi (whoever that is) has asked me to take over display for her; not sure yet what it encompasses. If it excuses me from the touring I’ll be happy.

    xoxo P

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