Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lidia's White Meat Sauce

Here's another recipe from one of the cookbooks I received for Christmas, Lidia Cooks from the heart of Italy by Lidia Bastianich.  There are some very unique recipes in this book, most of which you won't find in every other Italian coobook.  Check it out next time you go shopping!
When everyone is hungry and waiting to eat there isn't any time to get a photo of the plated dish.  So you'll just have to take my word that this recipe is wonderful.  The title is a little deceiving because this isn't exactly a white sauce in the way that a bechamel is a white sauce.  I know what Lidia means by it.  This isn't a heavy tomato based sauce but it does have a bit of tomato in it.  The recipe calls for beef, pork and veal but I just left out the veal and used two pounds beef and one pound pork.  It was a wonderful combination.

The changes I will make the next time is to definitely drain the fat out of the meat completely.  I only spooned it off because I was afraid that it would be dry.  It's definitely not dry and definitely does not need all that fat.  The second change I would make is the type of pasta I serve this with.  Lidia paired it with fresh pasta and that's what I did as well but I don't like scooping up the pasta with tongs and then needing a spoon to get the meat.  I rather use a tubular shaped pasta such as rigatoni or penne.  In the future I may add a little bit of nutmeg to the sauce since there is milk in it and I have learned that milk based sauces benefit from a hint of nutmeg.  All in all this recipe is a winner!  I hope you give it a try!

Lidia's White Meat Sauce
From Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy
by Lidia Bastianich.


1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground veal
2 medium onions, cut in chunks
1 medium carrot, cut in chunks
1 medium stalk celery, cut in chunks
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup white wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6-8 cups very hot chicken or veggie broth
2 fresh bay leaves


1.  Put the ground meats together in a bowl; loosed crumble and toss the meats together with your fingers.

2.  Drop the onions, carrots and celery chunks into a food processor and mince fine to an even textured paste.  Pour oil and drop butter into a large saucepan and set over medium high heat.  When the butter has melted scrape in the paste (pestata) with one teaspoon of salt.  Cook and stir the pestata until it has dried out and is beginning to stick, about 5 mins.

3.  Quickly crumble all the meat into the pan, stir with the pestata, sprinkle over it 1 more teaspoon of salt and cook, tossing and stirring occasionally, until the meat starts to release its juices.  Turn up the heat a bit, and continue cooking and stirring the meat as the juices evaporate, about 10 minutes, taking care that the meat doesn't brown and crisp.  *See Michele's Note
4.  When the juices have disappeared, pour in the white wine, bring it to a bubbling simmer, and cook until evaporated, 2 or 3 minutes.  Meanwhile, stir the tomato paste into the milk until blended. **See Michele's Note. When the wine has cooked away, pour in the milk and cook, stirring until it has cooked down.

5.  Now ladle 2 cups or more of hot stock into the pan, just enough to cover the meat.  Stir in the bay leaves and the remaining salt, and bring the liquid to an active simmer.  Cover the pan, adjust the heat so the liquid is steadily bubbling (not rapidly boiling), and cook for 15-20 minutes, as the broth gradually reduced.  Stir in about 2 more cups hot stock, just to cover the meat again, then give another 20-minute period of covered cooking and reducing.  Stir in a final addition of 2 cups stock, and cook, covered until the ragu is thick and concentrated, 20 minutes or so.  (The sauce should have cooked for at least an hour and incorporated 6-8 cups of stock in total.)

6.  Taste the ragu and adjust the seasoning.  Toss with hot pasta. ( If you've prepared the ragu in advance, let it cool, then refrigerate and freeze as you wish.)
Michele's Notes

*Here is where I would drain the fat off the pasta.  Lidia said the juices will evaporate but all that fat just sits there.  Instead, drain the meat and return it to the hot pan. 

**I find it completely unnecessary to combine the paste with the milk.  If you know a reason for this please share.  I just added the tomato paste to the meat and let it cook for a minute, then I added the milk.

Click here for a printable recipe of Lidia's White Meat Sauce.


Bob said...

This looks awesome. I saw her do this on her show months and months ago, but I couldn't find the recipe online. Thanks, I've been dying to make it!

Kathleen said...

This sounds utterly delicious. I just bookmarked and put it on my short list. thanks for sharing!!

Christyrenee said...

Looks delicious!!!

Culinary Alchemist said...

Looks delicious to me, whether White, Red, Green or Beige, makes no difference to me. I would eat that in a heartbeat... :)

Danielle said...

mmm...sounds and looks really good. I really enjoy a creamy tomato sauce

Mom on the Run said...

This dish would be a huge hit with my family. They love pasta in any form and shape. YUMMY!

Allie and Pattie said...

Michele, my northern Italian Nonna used to make a similar sauce- it was light yet had chunks of meat- delicious!
xoxo pattie

Lynda said...

My family loves pasta dishes, so this will be a hit.
I love watching Lidia on PBS as her food always looks so delicious!

Joe Ambrosino said...

Lidia is one of my gurus, Michelle.I have "Lidia's Family Table" which I often refer to. I have no idea why you would need to stir the paste into the milk before adding it to the sauce. In fact, it sounds counter intuitive to me. I would be much more inclined to treat it as you did.

Patti T. said...

This looks like a sauce my family would love and I know I would. I hope to be making it some time soon.

Cassie said...

Wow, that looks delicious! I'm such a sucker for pasta dishes!

Marcellina said...

My mother in law who originates from Piedmont also make a similar sauce minus the milk but adds bacon. She uses it with her ravioli. We all love it.

Mom on the Verge said...

Ooh! Just watched Lydia make this one on TV. I have someone who can't/won't eat tomatoes. Can you think of any other pasta sauces that don't have tomatoes and aren't heavy white cream sauces? THANKS!!!