So many memories emerge from the pot of hen ragù.
I thank my grandmother Sara for all the beautiful days of my childhood and for having taken me since I was a child to the countryside where she grew up.
Free to discover the garden, backyard, and chicken coop.
Back in the day, I couldn’t know it, but in this way, I took part in the life of the kitchen in all its aspects. And from there comes the imprint that has brought me here.
It is for my peasant grandmother who moved to the city if I am an urban girl with a peasant’s heart.
The habits tell more about us than many words.
For example, my shopping habits.
I’m lucky to live in Bologna, where the relationship with the countryside is still strong. And the proximity allows me to buy directly from farms just a few kilometers from the downtown where I’m living. There are also weekly farmers’ markets in the city center.
And then there are the visits to my parents’ home in Romagna, where eggs and vegetables are always fresh from the farmer.
The countryside brings me back to a serene atmosphere where, for a moment, I return to a little girl. The same who used to rummage in the courtyard; chasing geese and chickens until the rooster came; fearful in front of the pigsty; a serial taster of raw vegetables picked from the garden and swept over her shirt; a tireless – or almost tireless – picker of apricots and peaches.
The lunch in the backyard.
Under the shade vaults of the porch, at lunchtime, was set up a big table to welcome everyone. But during the week, the lunch was frugal. There is so much to do in spring and summer in the countryside. Everyone was in a hurry to get back to their occupations.
The atmosphere was completely different on Sundays, when the table was carefully set. The comings and goings between the kitchen and the courtyard were the sign of a different banquet.
If the cook needed a few leaves of sage, a sprig of rosemary, or some tender basil leaves, I would run briskly and happily to that task.
The farmyard hen ragù.
It was reserved for Sunday lunches when, even in the summer, the stock pot was often made. However, it is an inexpensive recipe and simple to make.
These are two characteristics that, more and more often, are coming out as a sort of hallmark of the cuisine that I propose on the blog.
It is a ragù without tomato sauce, strictly in white, which I always remember served with tagliatelle.
To make hen ragù, you will need hen meat that should not cook in the broth but in the pot with lots of aromas that will give it a good flavor.
But my advice is to buy the whole hen and ask the butcher to separate the bones and skin from the meat. In this way, you can also make the broth to give a special touch to your meat sauce.
Buona cucina, Monica
Cook with me
For all these memories, waking up in the country is still one of the best things that can happen to me (I talk about that in this post where you find even my mushrooms stew recipe.
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If you prefer a less aromatic ragout, add only a juniper berry or none.
Using milk is optional. It makes the meat softer. But if you lengthen the cooking time by a few minutes, you’ll get the same effect without adding dairy.
Farmyard hen ragù recipe
List of Ingredients
500g g hen meat
white onion, 1
celery stalk, 1
aromatic bouquet: 1 cm of rosemary branch, a few sage leaves, 2 juniper berries
300 g of chicken or vegetable stock
100 ml of white wine
100 ml milk (optional)
salt, butter, olive oil to taste
Chop onion, carrot, and celery keeping vegetables separate.
Finely chop chicken meat with a knife.
Wash sage and rosemary.
Wrap sage, rosemary, and juniper in sterile gauze and tie up with kitchen string.
In a saucepan, melt a generous knob of butter with olive oil, add the onion and cook slowly for a few minutes over low heat before adding the carrot and celery.
Stir, add a pinch of salt, and the bouquet.
Pour the hen meat into the pan, stir again, add a pinch of salt and add the wine.
Raise the heat slightly and let it evaporate for 3 minutes before pouring in the stock.
Stir, and wait a couple of minutes before adding the milk.
After adding the milk, cook over medium-low heat for about 40 minutes.
If you prefer a tighter sauce, cook for another ten minutes.
But you’ll need all the sauce to season the egg pasta, so don’t reduce it too much.