Grape Gourmet – Cucina Dello Zio

Cibo, vino e liquori di cucina in tutto il mondo.

Ragu – Cucuzza and Ground Veal

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Cucuzza and Ground Veal Ragu
Cucuzza e Ragù di Vitello Macinato
by James Belardo

When I was a young boy growing up in Brooklyn (NYC), many of our neighbors grew a summer squash originally from Sicily, the cucuzza. The cucuzza (cucuzza longa) can grow up-to 6-feet long, it’s pretty incredible. I never thought that such a plant could have such a profound impact. Somehow, this ubiquitous plant (at least in our neighborhood) would come to symbolize a good part of my childhood.

I’m not a great gardener but do have some land to give ‘er ago, I try, year after year and can only nurture one or two ‘fruit.’ Every year we ‘attempt’ to grow cucuzza, some years are better than others but this year we had a reasonable crop. Having an abundance of this vegetable created a challenge, we had to come up with different ways to prepare it.

Ingredients
3-4 pounds cucuzza squash, peeled, deseeded and cut
1.5-2 lbs ground veal
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1 small red onions, cut
28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
6 oz can tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine (Pinot Grigio)
1-2 cups water
4-6 tbsp olive oil
fresh basil
2-3 bay leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and  pepper – to taste
Peperoncino Fiocchi (hot pepper flakes) – optional

Topping
grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions
1. Clean, peel, remove seeds and chop the cucuzza into small pieces.
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2. In a large dutch oven, sauté the onions, garlic and (optional) Peperoncino Fiocchi (hot pepper flakes).
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3. When the onions begin to turn translucent and the garlic softens add the ground veal.
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4. As the ground veal cooks, season with salt and pepper (to taste)
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5. Once the veal is cooked add the cut cucuzza.
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6. When the cucuzza has softened, add a cup of wine.
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7. When it returns to a boil add a cup of water and the bay leaves.
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8. Once again, when it returns to a boil, add the hand crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.
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9. After about 5-10 minutes of simmering, taste and season with salt and pepper.
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10. Once the seasoning is close, add fresh (or frozen) basil and lemon juice.
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11. If you need to add additional water do so. Let the ragu cook for at least 20 minutes, taste and adjust flavors as needed.
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Serve with grated Pecorino Romano and flat leaf parsley on top

Enjoy

The Grape Gourmet
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Written by Zio James

September 9, 2019 at 11:08 AM

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