A “ragout” is a thick, well-seasoned stew, often meat or fish-based…and generally loaded with vegetables. When we read that our friend Renee Baribeau was participating in a recipe bloghop, and her contribution was a Spicy Ragout that she paired with Sweet Pumpkin, we were intrigued. The sweet, the savory, the spices…we knew that we had found another great addition to our Fall Comfort Food lineup. Says Renee,”This (ragout) recipe was adapted from a local restaurant in Syracuse. The Grandmother cooking was hesitant to share, but with a good eye and a keen nose I think I came close!” (NOTE: The other recipes from the bloghop Renee participated in can be found at the end of her article here.)
Sweet Pumpkin with Spicy Ragout
2 whole small baking pumpkins (preferably Sugar Baby) – cut in half and seeded
yogurt, for topping
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 c. of Renee’s Meat Sauce (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place pumpkin halves in a baking dish, bowl side up. Season each with 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, and 1Tbsp. butter.
Place in oven uncovered,and bake for 60 to 80 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender – this varies depending upon the pumpkins.
Cut pumpkin in half again. Place on a platter and fill with the thick sauce. Top with a dollop of yogurt.
Renee says, “NOTE: This recipe makes a large amount of meat ragout, which I split into two sauces. The variation to the sauce that goes with the Sweet Pumpkin is as follows:
Generally, I will remove four cups of the Meat Sauce and add the cinnamon sticks. The remaining sauce can be used for pasta or lasagna. I suggest you do it this way so you do not contaminate your spaghetti or lasagna sauce with cinnamon, which works well with this recipe but is not Italian. The meat should be pulled apart and chopped and added back to this sauce for a thick ragout.”
Renee's Meat Sauce
2 large onions, coarsely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 lb. pork butt, cut into 3 pieces
1 1/2lb. beef bones
1/2c. red wine
6 28-oz cans plum tomatoes, preferably organic
2 16-oz cans tomato sauce, preferably organic
1 bay leaf
6 slices Genoa salami
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 Tbsp. dried oregano
4 Tbsp. dried basil
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lb. spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
In a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot, sauté the onions, garlic, and carrots in oil until translucent. (Do not brown.)
Roast the pork butt and bones in a 450-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until brown. Deglaze pan with the red wine, scraping up all the brown bits and pour the bits and juices (and meat and bones) into the sautéing onion mixture above.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer 4 to 6 hours on the stove, over low heat. Remove bay leaves, bones, and cinnamon sticks. Remove the meat and chop and return to pot. Taste for seasonings and adjust.