Orecchiette pasta with meat rolls / Orecchiette al ragù di braciole

August 23, 2019

This is a traditional Sunday dish in Puglia, where you can either serve the orecchiette with ragù as a primo piatto and keep the meat rolls for your main course. Alternatively, you can have them both together which is the way I had them when in Puglia, the pasta tossed with sauce on one plate and the meat rolls in a separate dish on the side.

Serves 4-6

  • 360-400 g of orecchiette pasta
  • 8 veal escalopes (you can use thinly sliced beef instead) to make the rolls
  • 1 large bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • mint leaves (you will need one leaf for each meat roll)
  • grated pecorino or parmesan cheese (allow 1-2 teaspoons for every meat roll depending on its size)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 slices of pancetta
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1l of tomato passata
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 80 ml of dry white wine

Cut one pancetta slice into 8 equal strips. Slice one garlic clove into 8 slices.
Season each meat slice with salt and pepper on one side. Now place the cheese, chopped parsley (about a teaspoon), mint leaves, sliced garlic and pancetta strips on the seasoned meet escalopes.
Roll each piece of meat tightly and secure with cooking twine or skewers.

Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan or a pot (that will accommodate the rolls and the sauce). Add the chopped onion and allow to soften. Cut the remaining pancetta slices into smaller pieces and finely chop the garlic cloves. Now add them to the pan and fry for a few minutes on a medium heat stirring occasionally.
Add the meat rolls into the pan and fry on both sides until lightly golden.
Next add the wine and let it boil until almost evaporated. Then add the passata, reduce the heat, put the lid on and gently cook for a minimum of 50 minutes (if the veal escalopes are quite thick or you have used beef instead you will need to allow more time).
Take the lid off, season the sauce to your liking with salt and pepper, add any parsley that you may have left and simmer gently until the sauce has reduced a bit (it should not be watery).

Once the rolls are cooked, remove them from the pot with a couple of tablespoon of the sauce and keep warm. (The tomato sauce will be used for coating the orecchiette).
In the meantime bring a large bot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente.
Drain the pasta and toss with (still very warm) tomato sauce.

Serve the pasta immediately (decorating it with some parsley and some extra parmesan or pecorino cheese if you wish) placing the warm meat rolls next to it on a separate plate.