~ Montalcino ~

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times.  Tuscan cuisine is as simple as it gets.  Many recipes contain just a few simple ingredients and yet the dishes are packed with flavor.  The key is to get the best and freshest ingredients you can find.   

Today’s recipe is an adaptation of a pasta dish that I had in several different places across Italy.  Each time it varied slightly but I’m sharing my recent version because it was absolutely delicious.  

~ Vagliagli, Tuscany as seen from Villa Monterosa ~

Bucatini con Ragu di Maiale

1 pound Bucatini
1 pound ground pork  (fresh, not sausage meat)
16oz. can Italian Cherry Tomatoes
8oz. crushed San Marzano Tomatoes
3 cleaned, slice hot cherry peppers
1 teaspoon fennel seed
4 garlic cloves sliced 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a saute pan large enough to hold the finished dish, begin by browning the pork in a bit of olive oil.  The pork will be fairly lean, so it shouldn’t render too much and should brown in 2-3 minutes over medium heat.  Add the sliced garlic, tomatoes, cherry peppers and fennel seed, stir through and reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes.  If the condimento appears dry,  you can thin it at the end with a 1/2 cup of reserved pasta cooking water.   At this point, you’re done!  Really hard right?  

Cook the pasta until al dente, toss with the condimento and use the some of the pasta water if the sauce looks too dry.  A drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately. 
~ This dish was stunning.  The savory notes from the meat and garlic, the slight sweetness from the fennel seed, and the slight heat from the cherry peppers made for a ton of flavor that was well balanced ~

To drink?  We actually served two wines with this dish.  An Old Vine Zinfandel and a Chianti Classico.  The Chianti will be the subject of a future review.  Both wines worked well, though the higher alcohol in the Zinfandel seemed to clash more with the heat from the peppers.  The Chianti Classico was the clear favorite among all,  Guests® included.  


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