food. family. life.

rustic hand-cut pappardelle with ragu’ bolognese


Our Thanksgiving celebration was unique and special for us this year as we were not with either side of our famiglia and feeling a bit displaced. Dan, me and the girls were graciously invited to celebrate the holiday with very good friends, Valerie and Sean at their beautiful casa.

cucinadimammina_thanksgiving 2013_9We were all very excited as we knew this was to be a gathering of great friends we have known for years and some new friends-to-be.

The menu was a menagerie of lovely and delicious non-traditional dishes (sans turkey) that made us happy as larks.

The menu consisted of roasted-to-perfection herb and garlic-stuffed leg of lamb (prepared by Valerie), homemade barbeque whole chickens stuffed (yes!) with delicious barbeque ribs (prepared by James).

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I decided to prepare fresh egg pappardelle, rustic thin hand-cut style, and serve them with a rich ragu’ bolognese. This is a seasonal favorite that everyone seems to love at first taste.

Dan and I woke early to a welcome chilly 45 degrees on Thanksgiving morning; we quietly enjoyed the morning alone without the rush of a weekday facing us… we felt this first sensation of winter in the south and we smiled in appreciation.

We happily dressed with sweaters and jackets and joined our friends to help prepare our meal and watch as the men crafted a fire that would be the center of our evening. cucinadimammina_thanksgiving 2013_11.jpg

We toasted our wine and beer, we decorated a table-cloth, we shared plenty of laughs and conversation, and more wine and beer.

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Eventually we all gathered around the table set “al fresco” and passed the pappardelle, lamb, chicken and ribs which we devoured along with sides of crispy roasted potatoes and a fresh mixed green salad. Perfection.

Slowly, we watched the late afternoon sun turn to evening and the chill air return; we continued to eat under the glowing stars and the fire began to smoke and burn.

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cucinadimammina_thanksgiving 2013_barbeque chicken and ribs

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Our meal ended with a gathering of our group around the fire with some friends from the neighborhood who joined us.

With espresso and cappuccino in hand, we enjoyed fire-roasted marshmallows and a delicious dark chocolate-hazelnut tart with vanilla ice cream (prepared by Valerie.)

The fire crackled with warmth, filling the sky with the heady perfume of the outside air on a cool fall evening surrounding us all… one of my favorite moments.

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The turkey and traditional food offerings were simply not invited to this soiree.

Believe me when I say not a one of us missed them, and I must admit this was one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember.

It will always hold a special place in my heart as the seasonal days and months pass, we happily welcome more food gatherings and moments like these for me and my famiglia.

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So thankful… I am surrounded by a remarkable husband and daughters I love and adore, fabulous friends Valerie, Sean and James who are some of the best people we know and who we cannot wait to share more time, conversation, food and wine with in the months to come.

The winter holiday season has just begun but, for me it has started so beautifully that I cannot wait to see what is yet to come.


Note: For the ragu’ recipe, plan to make this a day or so ahead of time and then make the pappardelle noodles the same day you wish to serve them. It can be stored in the refrigerator and kept in well-sealed containers in the freezer for future use.

Tante auguri!

Note: Thanksgiving music mix courtesy of Valerie and Sean; with favorites tunes by Lorde, Lana Del Ray, Mumford & Sons and many more.

Holiday Tip: Visit Pandora and Songza to find and create your own holiday music mixes for all your gatherings this season. These sites are a great way to listen to new music not yet available on mainstream stations and find a collection of tunes that you can custom design for all types of events and personalities.



rustico tagliata a mano pappardelle con ragu’ bolognese

{ragu’ bolognese}


16-18 oz. ground beef, pork and veal mixture

6 0z. organic nitrate-free bacon, chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

2-3 large ribs celery (including leaves), chopped

1 large garlic clove, peeled and chunked

1 sweet vidalia onion, peeled and chopped

2 12 oz. cans of san marzano chopped tomatoes

1 8-10 oz. can san marzano plum tomatoes (use as needed)

glass of white wine

10-12 oz. unsalted beef stock (warm)


salt and pepper to taste

anchovy paste

olive oil

unsalted organic butter

In a large dutch oven pot or stock pot, add some unsalted butter and a drizzle of  olive oil on medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and brown until crisp and golden. Remove and set aside.

Add the ground mixture of meats mixture as it cooks (you can blend the ground meat mixture in your food processor to break down the meat if you prefer a smoother consistency to your bolognese; do not over mix or it will become too soft.) Once the meat has browned and is almost cooked through, remove from the skillet and add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the carrots, celery and onion along with a clove of garlic, cut into chunks.

Saute the veggies until tender and starting to lightly brown; remove the garlic pieces and discard. Add the bacon and ground meat to the skillet and blend well into the veggie mixture. Continue to cook on medium heat and add the glass of wine to deglaze and sauté. Stir well and once the wine has almost evaporated, add in the two cans of chopped tomatoes and stir in well. Place the heat on medium and allow this mixture to cook for a minute or two and then add some beef stock to loosen the mixture a bit (about half or more of the stock container.)

Slowly sauté this mixture until the liquid begins to dissolve; season with salt, pepper and a about a teaspoon of nutmeg or so to taste. Continue cooking this until it begins to thicken (add more stock if it’s too thick and not cooked well yet.)

The mixture will start to thicken and hold together on a wooden spoon. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasons as you prefer. Once the mixture is thoroughly cooked down, add in the glass of milk and continue to cook down until the milk is absorbed and the remaining sauce has a lovely creamier texture. Remove from heat and store until ready to use or set aside if using immediately.

Cook the pappardelle noodles in batches, placing gently in the slow boiling salted water. Stir gently and remove the noodles as soon as they are fork tender (they will cook very quickly). Drain and place in a large wide bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil to fend off sticking.

Once all the noodles are cooked and in the serving bowl, spoon the warm ragu’ bolognese heavily over the noodles and mix gently until well covered. Serve immediately with grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and extra ragu’ on the side for those who desire more.

{fresh egg pasta dough}


1 2/3 cups unbleached flour

1 2/3 cup semolina flour

3 organic whole eggs (room temperature)

8 organic egg yolks (room temperature)

1-2 tsp. olive oil

dash of sea salt

water (if needed)

In a large mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and blend well. With your mixer or by hand, add in the beaten egg yolks and whole eggs and begin to mix into the dry ingredients. Add some of the olive oil and continue mixing until the dough begins to form and come together (add the rest of the oil and some water (in small doses) if needed to get dough to form.

Remove dough from bowl, sprinkle counter with flour and begin to knead the dough for approximately 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and combined evenly. Form a ball and place back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes (if cool in the home leave at room temperature; if too warm in the home; place in the refrigerator and remove 5 minutes before ready to roll out the pasta)

Slice off sections and roll the dough out until you achieve thin, even sheets and set aside on prepared table covered with cloth and dusted with flour. Once all sheets are rolled out, using a large sharp knife cut the sheets into wide noodles (cut the length in half as well.) Keep the noodles approximately same width and length so they cook evenly (the key here is to have a rough “hand-cut” feel to these that add wonderful texture and visual appeal when served.)

Leave the noodles to rest for about 15 minutes and place large deep stockpot filled with salted water to boil.

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Buon Appetito! 

Note:  Photography courtesy of Carina A. Favale of Carina Favale Photography



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