This deeply flavored ragù would make a delicious dish just tossed with pasta, but paired with sweet, fresh ricotta, it's outstanding. Sheep's milk ricotta from the countryside outside Rome can be mail-ordered from Buonitalia in New York City's Chelsea Market (212-633-9090).
Plus: Pasta Recipes and Tips
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil, plus 4 tiny basil sprigs for garnish
1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped sage
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
1 pound ground pork
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup red wine
One 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, crushed with their liquid
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 1/2 cups fresh whole-milk ricotta
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon minced marjoram
1 pound rigatoni
How to Make It
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, chopped basil, mint, sage and rosemary and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 7 minutes. Add the ground pork, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, breaking up the pork, until the meat is mostly white. Add the wine and cook until almost evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their liquid and simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in the fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper.
In a bowl, stir the ricotta, then stir in the milk and marjoram and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the ricotta into shallow pasta bowls.
Cook the rigatoni in boiling salted water until al dente, then drain. Add the pasta to the ragù and simmer, stirring, for 1 minute; season with salt and pepper. Spoon the pasta into the bowls, garnish with the basil sprigs and serve.
The pork ragù can be refrigerated for 3 days.
A smooth, full-bodied red with some bright acidity but not too much tannin will stand up to the tomato-rich ragù.
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