Tacconi al ragù di carne macinata e funghi porcini secchi

Corn Pasta Squares with Beef and Mushroom Ragù


Cut Tacconi


If you like corn, but think it is only for polenta, get to know tacconi. This pasta is often seen in the regions of Molise and Abruzzo, and elsewhere in Italy’s Mezzogiorno. The dough is made of finely ground corn flour, wheat flour, whole eggs, and water. Toothsome, with a nice bite and full of corn flavor, these small squares are no delicate, paper-thin pasta. Rolled to a thickness of 3 to 4mm, tacconi are hearty, a great match for Italy’s rich, soul-satisfying sauces. I tossed them with a ragù enriched with full-flavored beef broth and porcini mushrooms.


Rotello cut Tacconi


Cut the squares with a fluted rotello, or pastry cutter, and they make an eye-catching addition to a thick winter soup.

Beef broth lends backbone to this ragù, so be sure to use broth with good flavor. Some of the commercially available preparations sport metallic or off flavors, while others are bitter and thin tasting. Patiently tended, homemade beef broth or stock will deliver true, robust beef flavor, but good commercial ones, such as Stock Options, a frozen product, are available. The rule is taste the broth before you use it.


Dried Porcini Mushrooms


Dried porcini mushrooms add a silky richness and their own brand of earthiness to the ragù. Dried porcini last a long time, but they do not last forever. Place them in a tightly closed glass or ceramic jar, and store in a dark cabinet. You should get a big dose of mushroom perfume when you open the jar. If not, it is time to buy new.


Soaking Porcini


Dried porcini must be reconstituted in liquid (water, broth or stock) prior to use. Place the mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling liquid over them to cover. Leave them for about thirty minutes, during which time the mushrooms will absorb some of the liquid and impart their flavor to what liquid remains. The mushrooms will also give off grit as they rest in the soaking liquid. Strain the mushrooms out, reserving the liquid. This liquid adds wonderful flavor to soups and sauces, but must either be strained through several layers of dampened cheesecloth or carefully added to the sauce, holding back the last bit of liquid into which the grit will have settled.


Ground meat


One final note, I strongly urge you to grind your own meat. Recalls are ever more frequent as adulterants, allergens and harmful bacteria are found in our meat supply. Grinding your own hand-selected cut of fresh meat will guarantee that you know what you are getting. If you prefer, you can select your meat and ask your butcher to grind it for you.


Tacconi

Tacconi al ragù con carne macinata e porcini secchi

Serves 4


Ragù con carne macinata e porcini secchi

1 stalk celery, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 large carrot, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 small red onion, quartered
10 sprigs of Italian parsley
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish, if desired
18 ounces chuck, preferably ground at home
¾ ounce dried porcini plus water to cover
1 cup Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or other full bodied red wine, such as Barolo
2 cups beef broth
24 ounces Passato (tomato puree)
1 clove of garlic, crushed
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Veggies


Make the ragù: Place the celery, carrot, red onion and the sprigs of parsley, torn from their stems, in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until well chopped and reduced to a pestata, a mixture of almost paste-like consistency. Heat ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil in a 4-quart heavy bottom Dutch oven. Add the pestata and a generous pinch of salt, and adjust the flame to medium-low. Cook, stirring often, adjusting the flame downward if necessary, to prevent scorching. Cook until well caramelized, about 1 hour.


soaking porcini mushrooms


Meanwhile, place the dried porcini in a medium bowl and pour 1 cup of boiling water over them to reconstitute. Set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, strain the porcini, reserving the soaking water.


chopping procini mushrooms


Transfer the drained porcini to a board and chop finely. Strain the soaking liquid through 3 layers of dampened cheesecloth to remove any grit. Reserve the water. It will be added to later in cooking. Set the chopped mushrooms and their strained soaking water aside.


Grinding-Meat


While the pestata cooks, cut the meat into 1-inch chunks and place in the freezer for 20 minutes. Grind twice, first through a larger grinding plate and then again through a finer grinding plate.


Beef Mushroom Ragu


Increase the heat to medium high and add the ground meat and crushed garlic clove to the cooked vegetable mixture. Cook, stirring often, until the meat is well browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the wine to the meat and vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Add the passato, beef broth and mushroom soaking liquid. Increase the heat to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer, and add the chopped mushrooms. Cook over low heat until thickened and dark, about 1½ hours. Remove and discard the garlic clove. Add a generous grinding of black pepper and if necessary, more salt. This sauce may be kept, well covered, in the refrigerator for 3 days or frozen for 2 months.


Tacconi

3 ounces (about ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) finely ground corn flourCorn flour and all-purpose flour
3 ounces (about ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons warm water


mixing the flour


To make the dough in the food processor: Place the flours in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse to blend.


Making Pasta


Lightly beat together the eggs and warm water in a small measuring cup. Remove the feed tube, and with the machine running, add the beaten egg mixture and process until small clumps form. If the mixture seems too dry, add a bit of warm water. If it is too wet, add additional corn flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, pulsing briefly.


prepping dough


Lightly dust a spianatoia (wooden board) or clean counter with flour. Transfer the dough to the spianatoia and knead it for about 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth.


Resting dough


Form the dough into a ball, and wrap it in plastic. Set it aside to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.


making pasta with a fontana


To make the dough by hand: Mound the flours on a spianatoia and mix well. Form a fontana, or well, by hollowing out a space in the center of the flour about the size of an orange. Crack the eggs into the fontana, and add the warm water, beating with a fork. With each stroke of the fork, bring a bit of the flour mixture into the egg mass, combining well, being careful to avoid creating lumps. Once the mixture has come together into a shaggy mass, use a bench scraper to push it aside. Scrape the spianatoia clean, discarding any hard pieces of flour and egg. Lightly flour the spianatoia and return the dough to it, kneading the dough until it is smooth, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, and wrap it in plastic. Set it aside to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Roll and cut the dough: After the dough has rested, lightly flour the spianatoia with flour and roll the dough to 3 to 4mm thickness.


cutting tacconi


Cut the dough lengthwise into in ¾ inch strips, and cut again crosswise at ¾ inch intervals to make ¾-inch squares.


drying tacconi


Separate the tacconi and place them on lightly floured lint-free towels. Cover with a clean lint-free towel, and set aside to dry for 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Cook the pasta: Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Salt the water liberally and add the tacconi. Cook for about 15 to 17 minutes, depending on their thickness, until almost cooked.


Corn pasta squares with beef and mushroom ragu
Finish the dish: Drain the tacconi and toss briefly in a saucepan over medium heat with 2 to 3 cups of hot ragu to finish cooking. Add a bit of olive oil to the tossed tacconi and serve topped with a dusting of Parmigiano.


Note: You can click on any picture for a slide show!

I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.

62 Comments

  1. Comment by Emilie@TheCleverCarrot:

    It is pouring rain here today, and all I want is this dish for dinner (and someone to make it for me!). I am inspired to make fresh corn pasta which is something I’ve never done before. Yours looks amazing. The flavors of porcini and wine simmering away must be heaven. And I have to agree with you about grinding you own meat- so much better and more flavorful. Great recipe Adri :)

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Emilie,

      Well this is surely a cold weather dish. It is hearty and super satisfying. Even if you don’t make your own pasta, there are a number of commercially prepared corn pastas around these days, and many of them are superb. The pasta was a change from the usual polenta. Buon appetito!

  2. Comment by TheKitchenLioness:

    Your tacconi look heavenly – I have to take the time and make more pasta – you always make it look so very delicious and tempting and the pictures along with your fabulous recipes are so wonderful as well – the homemade pasta, the ragù with only the best ingredients, just the best there is, dear friend!

  3. Comment by MADONNA/AKA/MS. LEMON:

    Oh my this looks delicious. I love that you used a rolling pin. This is the way my Mom used to make pasta.

  4. Comment by Ilaria:

    I didn’t know this particular pasta. It is really interesting… and it seams also very easy to prepare.
    It’s a really good idea!

  5. Comment by Mila:

    Sei stata davvero brava e super precisa!!!!

  6. Comment by Barb Bamber:

    I made a recipe with dried porcini mushrooms just this past month. Their scent was so “heady” I wasn’t certain it was supposed to smell like that, lol. I am addicted to that flavor now and would love to try this recipe! You’ve made such pretty little pasta squares.. this is just so lovely!!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Benvenuta Barb,

      Heady is right; there is nothing quite like the flavor of porcini, and it is absolutely addictive. Enjoy, and thanks for the visit and for your kind words. Alla prossima!

  7. Comment by Cara and Stefano:

    We are “senza parole”! This looks just like one of the rustic plates of pasta asciutta that one might find in the trattoria of a small town somewhere in central Italy. We’d never heard of tacconi, but they look and sound delicious. And that ragu’ with porcini!

  8. Comment by Karen (Back Road Journal):

    I always enjoy your posts as you prepare so many dishes that I have not had a chance to try. This sounds like a terrific dish and your ragu looks amazingly good.

  9. Comment by Cathy at Wives with Knives:

    I have to admit that I have never made pasta before, and I think this recipe might be a good place to start. What a beautiful dish, Adri. Hearty with so much flavor. It is perfect for a cold dreary weekend supper.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Cathy,

      This would be a good place to start. This dough, while soft, is not finicky and is not meant to be rolled paper thin. If you decide not to make the pasta, go for the sauce-it is great over penne! I hope you try this one!

  10. Comment by lisaiscooking:

    I’ve never had this type of pasta. It looks delicious, and I love the color! Can’t wait to taste this.

  11. Comment by Angela De Marco Manzi:

    Adri, appropos of nothing, I was perusing your blog looking for nothing in particular, I love reading it, and I stumbled across the post on the quilted ravioli. I have a cavarola board thanks to Terry Mirri (as well as two corzetti stampati, a garganelli maker, I have become something of an addict to his site) and I am going to try the ravioli for a dinner party I am having next weekend. I wanted you to know that I am inspired by your recipies and I didn’t want you to think you were posting into a black hole!! have a great weekend. A.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Angela,

      That one brought back so many memories. Do you remember “house calls”?

      Terry is such a gifted individual. His commitment to our culture and obvious joy in his work are a pleasure to behold. I hope you enjoy the quilted ravioli! Thank you so much for your very kind remarks

  12. Comment by sippitysup:

    Corn? Add me to the “new to me” camp as well. I love the rustic luxury of this entire dish. GREG

  13. Comment by Letizia-The miss Tools:

    Hi, thanks a lot for your comment, the pleasure to meet you is mine! What a beautiful blog!….and congratulation for this dish, as Italian I can say that it looks really really great! Brava!

  14. Comment by Angela De Marco Manzi:

    I made this my Sunday dinner. It was fabulous. Thank you so much for the inspriation.

  15. Comment by The Hungry Mum:

    This looks delish! Yum :)

  16. Comment by amy @ fearless homemaker:

    This truly might be one of the most delicious-looking meals I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve never had tacconi but they sound wonderful, especially with that luxurious ragu. Well done, Adri – this looks and sounds AMAZING!

  17. Comment by Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen:

    Loving this ‘corn pasta’ recipe, Adri! Perfect for ragu. Cannot wait to try this! Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

  18. Comment by Trisha Thomas:

    Adri — doesn’t that look scrumptious. I am sitting here in the small town of San Cassiano in the Dolomites on a week long vacation and I think that Tacconi al Ragu’ di Carne Macinata e Funghi Porcini Secchi would make the perfect dinner tonight. But, as you well know, I am a hopeless cook, so I will just have to eat with my eyes from your wonderful photos. Thank you for such a feast.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Trisah,

      Yes, I’d say this would rate as mountain food! But as for the hapless cook part, I don’t buy it. You could do this, and just think of what fun it would be to have Gustavo there telling you just how it ought to be done…

      I love hearing that you are on vacation. Your last post, which I just read sounds like you have been busy. The new cabinet has been front page news here!

  19. Comment by 2 Sisters Recipes:

    Adri! First, I have to tell you that I wished you were my neighbor because I know we would have a ball cooking and eating together. We have company over every week, entertaining friends and family all the time. Secondly, you would be my teacher, for sure, and I would be learning how to make a variety homemade pastas. This pasta recipe is amazing and your ragu is too! Thanks so much for sharing! Un bacione- Anna

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Anna,

      What a wonderful sentiment. I know we’d have a ball together in the kitchen – or just talking over the back fence. I hope you give this one a try. It’s a different sort of pasta, and the ragù is perfect for winter weather. Thanks for stopping by. Alla prossima!

  20. Comment by Mandy - The Complete Book:

    What a magnificent meal, made with so much love. Scrumptious.
    Have a super week ahead.
    :-) Mandy xo

  21. Comment by David Crichton:

    Hi Adri, I think a beef ragu and pasta is my favourite Italian dish. I guess it’s just grown up spaghetti bolognese for us Brits. I love finding new pasta shapes to play with, when you say cornflour do you mean cornmeal/semolina? Cornflour to me is a thickener, I think you call it cornstarch in the US.

    I’ve made these gnudi before http://www.fdathome.co.uk/gnudi-beef-ragu/. Are these authentic enough? Are there any other versions of gnudi I could make from your repetoire?

    • Comment by Adri:

      Benvenuto David,

      Che belli gnudi! Indeed they are authentic! I have never done gnudi on my site, but you have inspired me. I love to add spinach to the ricotta for some nice “naked” ravioli. I used finely ground corn flour, here a yellow, almost powdery flour ground from the entire corn kernel. Here in the U.S. corn flour and cornstarch (also corn starch) are two different entities; cornstarch for us is indeed a thickener, ground from only the endosperm of the corn, and is pure white in appearance. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  22. Comment by Roz:

    I love the addition of the earthy porcini mushrooms to this ragu! And, yes I’ve always associated corn meal with polenta. I’m sure the Tacconi are wonderful! Love all of the step by step photos too! Mi compliment, Adri!

  23. Comment by Bam's Kitchen:

    Adri, this dish is just gorgeous and made with love. I love pasta rolled by hand and cut by hand it just tastes so much better. Love love love that slow cooked ragu and I on my way into the kitchen to see if I have everything on your ingredient list to try making that this weekend. Sharing this recipe!

  24. Comment by Frank @Memorie di Angelina:

    Well, you learn something new every day, as the saying goes. Never heard of these, or any pasta made from corn flour, but it makes perfect sense. Yummy!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Frank,

      Well it is my pleasure to introduce you to this. Back in the day housewives actually used coarsely ground polenta for this. Nowadays, however, finely ground corn flour has taken the its place. It really is tasty. Give it a go. The dough is quite tender and soft, yet quite easy to work with. Alla prossima!

  25. Comment by Pam@MyNewlywedCookingAdventures:

    It reminds me a little of gnocchi in terms of heartiness. Sounds really good and perfect with a homemade ragu. I once had a boar ragu in Italy and it was the best thing ever. This looks like it would match that flavor and deliciousness!

  26. Comment by Jovina Coughlin:

    Hi Adri
    I had store bought corn pasta, but never homemade. Now I can make it. Thank you for sharing. Great directions, here, also.
    Jovina

  27. Comment by Ciao Chow Linda:

    Adri – I’ve never eaten tacconi, much less made them, but now you’ve got me really curious. That ragù looks divine with them too. Your precision cutting is commendable and I especially like the zig raggedy edged ones.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Linda,

      These are tasty little patches, that’s for certain. I’ve never heard of them being made with anything other than a straight edge, but I could not resist dressing them up, just a little bit.

  28. Comment by Laney (Ortensia Blu):

    Tacconi is a new one for me – thanks for the introduction…and as usual, your recipe and photos are absolutely magnificent! And of course you would use a ruler for complete perfection:)…

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Laney,

      This one is tasty and hearty. And yes, I use a ruler. I am pretty poor at freehand, although I am sure no one but me would even notice… thanks for stopping by!

  29. Comment by janie:

    My mouth is watering! I’ve never used corn flour for pasta but yours looks so lovely that I”ll have to give it a try.

  30. Comment by Mimi:

    This look so beautiful ! I must try out this pasta. The sauce looks delicious as well!

  31. Comment by Chiara:

    Che perfezione, sono venuti perfetti Adri ! Un condimento molto gustoso e foto splendide !

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