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Rigatoni with Tuna Bolognese

Ease of Preparation: Moderate

Preparation Time: 25 min

Cook Time: 2 hrs

Servings: 4

Recipe By: David Pasternack and Ed Levine

From:  The Young Man & the Sea
Used with permission of Artisan

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Rigatoni with Tuna Bolognese

I love a classic Bolognese sauce. But in a creative moment, I figured since Esca is an Italian seafood restaurant, I might as well see what a Bolognese sauce would taste like made with tuna instead of meat. I succeeded so well that a lot of people can't tell the difference. That's because tuna is just as meaty as beef, pork, or veal. Ask your fishmonger for tuna scraps when you're making this dish. It will save you some money and you won't be sacrificing anything in terms of flavor or texture. If you happen to own a meat grinder, grind the tuna twice using a 1/4-inch die.

2 pounds fresh tuna scraps or steaks, cut into large chunks
10 ounces pancetta, cut into medium dice
6 ounces mackerel, cut into large chunks
3 tablespoons olive oil
1  onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bottle red wine (750 milliliter)
1  bay leaf
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2  cinnamon stick (about 2 inches)
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes and their juice
 sea salt
 freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried rigatoni (preferably DeCecco)
1/2 pound mascarpone cheese
In a food processor, pulse the tuna, pancetta, and mackerel until coarsely ground. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ground tuna mixture, and increase the flame to medium high. Cook, stirring with a fork, until all the juices are dry and the bottom of the pan begins to brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the red wine, bay leaf, red pepper, and cinnamon stick, and cook until dry, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, crushing them by hand, and their juice, and 1/2 cup water. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Let simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. The sauce should be moist, not wet. Taste and reseason with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.

Prepare the rigatoni according to package directions, cooking 1 minute less than the package instructs for al dente. Drain in a colander and combine with the Bolognese sauce. Divide among four serving bowls. Top each bowl with 1/4 cup of mascarpone, a sprinkling of salt, and a grinding of pepper.

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