by Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
Chilly days, rain, need of comfort food…
Winter in Florence is not bad at all. The city, very crowded during the other times of the year, is quiet and full of joyful Christmas lights that give the city a completely different kind of magic than what it offers in summertime.
At the street corners, you can warm your hands with a “cartoccio di caldarroste”—a cone of yellow paper with roasted chestnuts. You can also get a warm chocolate in a cozy bar in the city center and order the season's hearty dishes.
Winter really stimulates me to cook. I light the fire, heat the oven, and make traditional recipes in my warm, homey kitchen. During the cold winter nights, I feel lazy and don’t enjoy going out to face the harsh elements; but I love to invite friends around my table to indulge in warm food and good wine. During these winter dinners, we reminisce about old times and brainstorm about new projects and our lives yet to come.
Here in Tuscany, the winter is very chilly. If you happen to visit Florence during this season, you might be surprised to see it covered with a white mantle of snow. It is a totally different vision of the city, stunning to see it all: the Lungarni, the beautiful streets along the river, the big, frozen Arno River, and the view of the hills dressed in white. But to be honest, Florence in the winter is usually drenched in rain. Personally, it is not my favorite season, but I have affectionate memories of the big family feasts of my childhood.
In Florence, during the cold days, we prepare warm, comfort recipes and enjoy our meals with a good glass of red Chianti wine. Welcome winter, indeed!
TAGLIATELLE WITH TUSCAN RAGÙ
The name ragù comes from the French word "ragoutier," meaning "awake your appetite." This rich meat sauce was invented by the Cardinal of Imola, a chef who lived at the end of 1700. At the beginning of 1800, the ragù made its appearance in some cookbooks from Emilia Romagna, and it was a dish that was served on feast days. This sauce is prepared in a variety of ways across Italy, and the most famous in the world is Ragù bolognese. However, in Tuscany, we cook ragù in a lighter way. Traditionally, we make ragù of wild boar, duck, and game, but the recipe that follows is made only with fresh Italian sausage, ground pork, and ground beef.
This very simple and delicious meat sauce if perfect for fresh pasta and lasagna.
500 g fresh tagliatelle
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrots, chopped
500 g total of: ground beef, pork, and sausage
1 glass of red wine
1 can whole tomatoes
Rosemary and sage
Salt and pepper
Chop the onion and carrots and saute in the olive oil.
Add the meat, brown it, and add wine until it evaporates.
Add tomato, the herbs, a glass of water.
Cover and let simmer for one hour.
Cook tagliatelle until al dente.
Dress the pasta with the ragù.
If you like, you can sprinkle Parmesan on top.