Rigatoni With Beef And Onion Ragu

The weather's finally coming around. By which I mean getting "worse," by which I mean perfect for hearty dinners. This pasta from America's Test Kitchen is more Northern Italian than Southern: that means plenty of meat and cheese. Make it on a cold-ish night!

Photo courtesy America's Test Kitchen
Photo courtesy America's Test Kitchen   

Rigatoni with Beef and Onion Ragu
Serves 6 to 8
1lb boneless beef chuck eye roast, cut into 4 pieces and trimmed
Kosher salt and pepper
2 oz pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 oz salami, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small celery rib, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 1/2 onions, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
1 pound rigatoni
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano, grated, plus extra for serving

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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 degrees.

Process pancetta and salami in food processor until ground to a paste, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer paste to Dutch oven and set aside; do not clean out processor bowl. Pulse onions in processor in two batches, until 1/8 to 1/4 inch pieces form, 8 to 10 pulses per batch.

Cook pancetta mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fat is rendered and fond begins to form on bottom of pot, about 5 minutes. 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, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer beef to carving board. Place pot over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is almost completely dry. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup wine and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using 2 forks, 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.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add rigatoni and 2 tablespoons salt and cook, stirring often, until just al dente. Drain rigatoni and add to warm sauce. Add Pecorino and stir vigorously over low heat until sauce is slightly thickened and rigatoni is fully tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve, passing extra Pecorino separately.

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