“Pasta al Ragu” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

Really, this is just a fancy meat sauce for pasta, but oh my goodness, this was so good that this cookbook has already paid for itself in good eating just in this one recipe alone.

Like all good long-and-slow recipes– it took about four hours in all– it was bit of a faff up front, especially with all the chopping for the soffritto. But it was utterly worth it. I was surprised to see that the chopped up onions, carrots and celery and almost disappeared into the meat sauce by the time it was done cooking. The long and slow method also enabled all of the ingredients to really get to know one another to become one delicious unit.

However, and this is a biggie, I need to add a caveat: I really was utterly confused by the size of the citrus zest required. It said I needed a 28cm by 8 cm strip of zest– one of lemon, another of orange. I’m sure it was a typo. At least, I hope it was a typo. How in the world would I be able to get a lemon or orange that size? (Spoiler alert: I couldn’t.) I did look high and low on the Internet for some sort of clarification or correction on this, but couldn’t find anything. In the end, I cut about eight strips of zest off of both a lemon and an orange. It certainly seemed to work, though I’d still like to know how much I really need.

This does reintroduce the question of what happens when a book has a typo. I know it’s been tested and edited and proofread, but hey, mistakes happen. But in this day and age, you’d think the publisher would be able to put out some sort of notice somewhere. When Gizzi Erskine had a typo for her Black Velvet Cake in “Gizzi’s Healthy Appetite”, she put a correction on her Instagram account. For me, the correction came too late and the cake was an utter disaster, but at least the correction was out there.

That problem aside, this was utterly amazing. Sure, it took about four hours, which is not the sort of time commitment you can make on a weekday afternoon. But on a rainy Saturday, it was the perfect thing to have bubbling away on the stove while we got on with other things. (Some of us watched the Master’s. Some of us went to the pub. I’ll leave it to you to decide what I did.) Also, we had enough leftovers to have it again, though I did have to bulk it up a bit with a can of chopped tomatoes.

Sure, there are loads of other beef sauce recipes out there that can be done easier and quicker. But they couldn’t possibly be better than this. We thought it was perfection. Highly recommended.

A Question for our American Readers who have this book: Can you please check the recipe that’s in your addition? Anne from Australia said that in her edition it calls for the same zest measurements, but she guessed– and I agree– that perhaps they ran into problems when they converted it to metric. So I’d be curious to hear what it says in the U.S. book. I’ll post the answer here if anyone has it. Thank you!

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“Pasta al Ragu” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

6 thoughts on ““Pasta al Ragu” from “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”

  1. Anne says:

    I bought this book before Christmas and I have been slowly reading my way through, I haven’t even looked at the recipes yet. So thank you for your review, good to know that the recipes work, apart from the size of the zest .I checked my book here in Australia and it has the same measurements. I guess the book was published in the US and so the measurements were incorrectly converted. I will be keeping my eye for that when I start cooking from it Thank you.

  2. Maureen Stapleton says:

    That’s a great point– I wonder if it’s a conversion problem. I’ll add a note to the post and ask if any American readers have the book and what measurements they have on that page.

  3. Melissa M Maedgen says:

    I have the US version and it calls for the zest to be 11 inches long and 3 inches wide. Which is just insane. Sounds like it was converted correctly, but the original measurement makes no sense at all.

    1. Maureen Stapleton says:

      Wow. That’s insane. How could you even find a lemon that would get you a zest that big? This definitely requires further investigation. Thank you so much for looking it up.

      1. Lisa Clarkson says:

        Hi, I just got this book. The US version does not call for an 11-inch strip. It asks for

        1 1-inch by 3-inch strip

        If you looked quickly maybe it looks like 11-inch by 3-inch, but there is definitely a space there. This is for both the lemon and orange.

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