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Ragu alla Contadina

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces boneless veal shoulder or round
4 ounces boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 ounces mild Italian sausage
8 ounces beef skirt steak, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut
1 ounce thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
2/3 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups poultry/meat stock
2 cups milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat.
(Have a 4- to 5-quart saucepan handy to use once browning is
completed.) Add the pancetta and minced vegetables and saute,
stirring frequently with a wooden spatula, 10 minutes, or until
the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats
together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat
grinder. Stir into the pan and slowly brown over medium heat. First
the meats will give off liquid and turn dull gray, but as the liquid
evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the
meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on
the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes,
or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the
skillet into a strainer and shake out the fat. Turn them into the
4- to 5- quart saucepan and set over medium heat.

Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles
quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half,
about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles.
Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan and set the skillet

Stir 1/2 cup stock into the saucepan and let it bubble slowly, 10
minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another 1/2 cup
stock. Stir in the last 1/2 cup stock along with the milk. Adjust
heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot,
and cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook,
uncovered, at a very slow bubble another 45 minutes, or until the
sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss with freshly cooked pasta and serve immediately. Pass freshly
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.


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