Spicy Buffalo Ragu over Pipe Rigate Pasta is perhaps my favorite pasta dish that I make.
I am pretty picky when it comes to pasta dishes. Pasta isn't my first choice in Italian restaurants, I always go for risotto if it is on the meny, but once in a while a hearty, delicious pasta dish hits the spot. This is what this spicy buffalo ragu over pipe rigate pasta is all about.
And the pasta I used are fun pasta shapes - similar to elbow macaroni used in mac and cheese but bigger. They hold up well with a thicker style meat sauce like the buffalo ragu. Heartier sauces need a sturdier noodle or pasta shape.
Spaghetti of some sort is a staple meal at my house, as it probably is in most houses. Most of the time I make it with either dark meat ground turkey or ground pork and once in a while I add in sweet italian sausage to the mix. The type of noodles is always changing and the sauce varies as well. It's often a what's in the pantry and what kind of veggies do we have leftover from the farmers market to add to the sauce.
Pretty sure I don't make it the exact same way each time. But every time I make this dish it is always delicious. And my kids will eat it in silence since its one of their favorite meals, and silence at meals is always appreciated since usually they are anything but.
Two years ago Bon Appetit magazine had a gorgeous pork ragu on the cover of one of their magazines. I tucked it away to make soon. Two years later...finally made it. Well sort of. Theirs is with ground pork and pork sausage and they let it cook for over 4 hours. When I finally decided to make this recipe I had one hour to cook before the family was going to be asking me when dinner was ready. Did I read that it took 4 hours?? NOPE. I just figured it was like normal red pasta sauce. At least how I make it. In one hour instead of several hours, all day, overnight or whatever to let the flavors really develop. Like its really supposed to be made.
I was about 45 min into making the sauce and I saw "4 hours" in the directions I knew I had to make a ton of shortcuts to get dinner on the table soon. It ended up taking almost an hour and a half but it was so worth the wait. This goes to show its best to read recipe directions several times before making it, so you don't end up having to order pizza because dinner still has 3 hours left to cook and everyone is hungry and doesn't want to eat dinner at 10 pm on a school night.
We had gotten a few pounds of ground buffalo from Wild Idea Buffalo a while back and made burgers with some and I decided to make this ragu with the rest since it would be different than our usual turkey or pork. I love the flavor of buffalo, its milder than beef, I don't actually eat beef though, it doesn't agree with me - but my husband and kids love it. So any of the steak or beef recipes you see on my blog are my husbands recipes.
My shortcuts totally worked for this buffalo ragu. In fact the flavor was so good its hard to tell that it didn't simmer for 4 hours to develop flavor. I had a few tricks too. I added in a little red wine since I love the flavor of wine in sauces and I learned another really neat culinary trick from my blogging friend, Irvin of Eat the Love. A bunch of us were joking the other day about all these national food days. National pancake day, national fried egg day, national eat chocolate cookies while facing east day, and he joked that there should be a national fish sauce day.
The conversation was hilarious and he interjected with a story how he loved adding a dash of fish sauce to pasta sauce to give it a touch of "umami", that delicious savory flavor that is often associated with Asian cuisines such as sushi. So I went for it and WOW, just the little bit I added really gave the ragu a little something extra. I am all for secret ingredients.
A few notes on this recipe:
- You can make the ragu ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze it before completing the meal. The flavors do come through better the day after it is made. Or you can simmer for the 4 hours as the original recipe states.
- Fish sauce is my go-to secret ingredient for that "umami" flavor in savory dishes especially anything tomato based. NO your food will not take on a fish flavor since you only use a few dashes.
- If you can't find the pipe rigate pasta you can use a larger penne, rigatoni or other thicker shaped pasta. The ragu would be good over traditional spaghetti noodles as well.
- If you don't want to use buffalo/bison as your protein you can sub in ground pork, sweet or spicy Italian sausage (not precooked), beef or ground turkey. I would use dark meat ground turkey rather than light meat.
Spicy Buffalo Ragu over Pipe Rigate Pasta
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
- 2 lbs ground buffalo
- 2 carrots peeled and diced fine
- 2 celery ribs diced fine
- 1 medium yellow onion peeled and diced fine
- 4 large garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon red chile flakes divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 28 ounce container chopped San Marzano tomatoes Pomi
- 1 28 ounce container San Marzano tomato puree Pomi
- 1 C chicken broth
- ½ c red wine
- ½ teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 lb short tube shaped pasta - penne rigatoni, I used Pipe Rigate
- Italian flat leaf parsley chopped for garnish
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Add the coconut oil to a large pan ( 5-6 qt) over medium heat. Once melted add the buffalo and sauté until almost fully cooked, breaking up the meat with a spatula. Once almost fully cooked and crumbled, transfer the buffalo to a bowl, leaving the juices in the pan. Add the carrots, celery and onion to the pan and cook, stirring often until they are starting to soften about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic, salt, pepper and half of the chile flakes, stir for another minute. Add in the chopped tomatoes in their juice, tomato puree and chicken broth, stir well and bring to a simmer. Add the ground buffalo back in and lower the heat. Cook covered about 20 minutes. While the ragu is simmering make the pasta according to package directions. Once cooked drain and set aside.
- Remove the lid from the ragu and taste. Season with more salt and pepper if needed and add the remaining red chile flakes, red wine and fish sauce and simmer another 5 minutes. Add in the drained pasta and mix well. Serve hot with a tablespoon or so of parsley, some parmesan and more red chile flakes for even more spice. You can also keep the pasta and sauce separate and just spoon the ragu over the pasta in bowls.
Also as you can clearly see I wasn't sure which background looked better for my photos, a dark one or a light, so I went with both. Not that the backgrounds matter when it comes to the flavor of this dish, but it shows that no matter what color your table is the buffalo ragu will not only taste good but look good too. Or something like that.