Strozzapreti. I just had to type it one more time. What a great word. It’s a type of pasta from Italy. There must be thousands of shapes of pasta in Italy. Every time I turn around I’m seeing a new name and shape. It’s a far cry from the 4 varieties I remember as a kid.I like different shaped pastas and will buy new shapes – provided they’re priced the same as the other stuff. I’m way too cheap to spend twice as much money for a barely-discernible difference. And a lot of the shapes on the market really are just a half-twist away from being called something else.

I bought the strozzapreti at Cost Plus a while back and it’s been sitting in the cupboard just waiting a reason to come out and play.

Tonight was the reason.

I was perusing my latest copy of Cooks Illustrated and came upon a recipe for Italian Beef and Onion Ragu. I like Cooks Illustrated, although they can also annoy me sometimes with their quest to make something better – and by doing so, change the dish so completely it doesn’t even resemble what it was they started with.

Their recipe sounded good, so I used it as my starting point and made a few changes to make it more to my liking.

Rigatoni with Beef and Onion Ragu

  • 1 1/2lbs boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 4 pieces and trimmed
  • 2 oz pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 oz salami, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  •  2 carrots, coarsley chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/2 pounds onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
  • 1 pound pasta of your choice
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated, plus extra for serving

Sprinkle beef with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300°.

Process pancetta and salami in food processor until ground to a paste. Add carrots and celery and continue chopping until very fine. Place in pot. Finely chop onions in processor and set aside.

Transfer paste to Dutch oven and begin cooking over low heat.

Cook pancetta mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fat is rendered and poaste begins to brown. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until browned, about 90 seconds. Stir in 2 cups water, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in onions and bring to boil. Stir in 1/2 cup wine and 1 tablespoon marjoram. Add beef and push into onions to ensure that it is submerged. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, until beef is fully tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

Transfer beef to carving board. Place pot over medium heat and stir in remaining 1/2 cup wine and cook for 2 minutes. Shred beef into bite-size pieces. Stir beef and remaining 1 tablespoon marjoram into sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and add to warm sauce. Add Pecorino and stir. Serve, passing extra Pecorino separately.

It came out really good. Oniony without being overpoweringly so and really rich. We all ate a lot and there’s enough left for another meal.

Not bad, at all…