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Beyond ragù

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This is my version of a vegan “ragù alla Bolognese” – or simply ragù – prepared with Beyond Beef (here called B.B. in short).
Before proceeding, I would like to explain how I came up with this recipe. I previously used half of a package of B.B. (total weight 16 ounces) to prepare “polpette” – meatballs – following a classic recipe. The meatballs turned out to be flavorful, with B.B.’s flavor prevailing over the other ingredients (eggs, bread, cheese, and garlic). In particular, the taste of pomegranate and beetroot together provided an intense taste of meat, similar to the Italian meat specialty called “cotechino”.
For this reason, I decided to proceed with the preparation of B.B. ragù following the proportions recommended by Professor Dario Bressanini. There are of course a thousand recipes for ragù alla bolognese, but I prefer Bressanini’s because he explains the theory behind the dish and the reasons why the various steps are carried out. According to him, the traditional recipe requires sausages (and fats) to provide taste and softness to the ragù. Instead, B.B. contains coconut oil and cocoa butter, along with canola oil; the package indicates the presence of 18 grams of total fat. Since the meat/vegetables ratio Bressanini recommends is 1250 grams of meat to 700 grams of vegetables, I maintain roughly this proportion – that is, the vegetables are about half the weight of B.B.

Two important differences between this recipe and a classic meat ragù are the cooking method and time. A traditional ragù requires hours of slowly cooking the ingredients all together, but this is impossible with B.B. So, I begin by cooking the vegetables and B.B. separately, and then mixing them toward the end. This allows us to achieve the Maillard reaction, which is fundamental for a full-bodied sauce.

Beyond Ragù

Ingredients
Beyond beef 8 ounces
Carrots, celery and onion about 4 ounces (in equal amounts, so 1.33 ounces each)
Dry white wine 4 ounces
Tomato puree 14 ounces
Tomato paste half a tube
Salt and pepper
Laurel two leaves, or nutmeg (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil about 3 tablespoons

Preparation
Peel carrots and onion, then wash them carefully together with the celery. Chop vegetables into large pieces, put them in the mixer and chop fine.
Heat a large non-stick pan with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, add the chopped vegetables, and cook covered with a lid for about 5 minutes. Then, remove the lid and cook until tender, clear, and water is absorbed.

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Heat another non-stick pan with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and add the B.B. Keep the heat medium/high and stir until the B.B. has a nice caramelized color.

Deglaze with the white wine, let evaporate, then add the vegetables, the tomato paste, and tomato puree.

Cook for about 25 minutes, stirring often (add vegetable stock in case the sauce dries).
After 25 minutes add salt, pepper, and nutmeg (or laurel); mix and after 5 minutes ragù is ready.
Enjoy your meal!

Tips
You can vary the ratio of carrots, celery, and onion according to taste. I wanted to balance B.B.’s taste with a sweet one, so I used a bit more carrot.
If you are not vegan, you can use milk in place of the vegetable stock.
It is important to use high quality tomatoes. For this recipe, I used whole San Marzano tomatoes, chopping them finely before adding them to the sauce.
I used Beyond Beef for this recipe, but I will try other brands of meat-substitute in the future to test for differences in flavor and texture.

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