Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Leftovers in a Fresh House-- Beef Ragu with Rigatoni

Moving house is a monumental task. Moving back into your own house is not only imposing but emotionally challenging. Moving into a dust-filled, haphazardly strewn home is even more daunting. Compounded with the fact that every room has detritus of our life, makes tiding up a herculean task. What motivates me is the single-minded desire to sleep in my bedroom, to open my front door to neighbors and lastly, to cook in my kitchen. And so we box our belongings in the apartment. We get up at the crack of dawn to dismantle the beds. We await the movers with eager anticipation. They work efficiently. Come mid-morning I am outside my front door! Our trusty construction crew welcome us home. Standing amidst chairs, china and chaos, I come back to live here exactly four months to the date I left. We  carry bags, baskets, bottles( oh yes, we saved all the adult beverages) up and down the stairs. We swiffer and shine floors coated with dust and debris. In spite of a back breaking scrub, we have not scratched the surface. But I am home! Every single body part aches! My feet are swollen in my sneakers. I resort to flip flops. My heart sings a happy song.

I am planning our first dinner. A hard thought since the kitchen is quite a jumble. And then the back-splash is installed, along with instructions not to use the sink! My first dinner dream is dashed! I will not eat another slice of pizza or sub. Luckily we have leftovers. And so I bridge the gap with a  meal from the tiny galley kitchen to the wide open space I call home.  Cardboard for a tablecloth, leftovers on paper plates and some retrieved forks make us happy customers!

Beef Ragu with Rigatoni

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound ground Beef
3 tablespoons Olive oil
1 Onion
6 cloves Garlic
2 Bay leaves
1/4 cup red Wine
1 28oz can of crushed Tomatoes
1 cup Chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon ground Pepper
1 pound Rigatoni
1 tablespoon Basil leaves
Parmesan cheese

Peel and chop the onion into small chunks.

Peel garlic and mince very fine.

Put a large saucepan on a medium flame to heat.

Add olive oil.

Wait for 30 seconds and add onion and garlic to the hot oil.

Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes till onions turn soft.

Raise the flame to high and add the ground beef. Saute well breaking up the meat with the back of a spoon. The meat should be in small bits. Brown for about 7 to 8 minutes. There should be small brown bits at the bottom of the pan.

Add the wine. Stir well  and scrape off those small brown bits.

Add the tomatoes and chicken stock.

Season with oregano, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then lower the flame to a simmer. The sauce should simmer at a slow bubble. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the sauce from time to time.

Put a large pot half filled with water. Bring to a boil and salt well.

Add rigatoni to boiling water and cook for 8 minutes or as the package directs.

Cut the basil leaves into slivers.

Drain pasta and add to sauce.

Serve the sauce with basil slivers and grated Parmesan cheese.


You could use any pasta. Ziti or spaghetti works well too.

 Ground turkey or pork is a tasty alternative to beef.

The sun sets. Neighbors walk in to welcome us. We chatter endlessly with promises of lavish spreads to come. We set the makeshift table. Exhausted we fall on our food. I am contented to watch us savor leftovers. The dark outside is the opposite of the sunshine in my heart. We are home.