When we were in Italy (just a couple of weeks ago!), we dedicated a large part of our trip to consuming great amounts of pasta.  Fresh homemade pasta was by far our favorite.  We became big fans of the Tuscan specialty, Pappardelle al Cinghiale, wild boar braised in red wine and tomatoes served with wide, flat egg noodles.  

Here is my US-grocery-store-friendly version... I made if for Mike's Birthday Party Dinner with our friends last weekend.  It is definitely a warm-you-to-the-bones great winter dinner.  Oh, and if you don't want to make homemade pasta, you can find some great authentic alternatives at most grocery stores - even fettucine will work, but for a special occasion, I recommend the real thing. 

Pappardelle with Braised Beef Ragu

1 pound of homemade Pappardelle (recipe below)
1 pound of beef chuck roast
1 - 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 - 14 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of fresh basil
parmesan cheese for serving

For the sauce, place the chuck roast in a dutch oven (I like to use a Staub) or covered oven and stove safe dish.  Pour in the can of crushed tomatoes, hand-squeeze-crush the whole tomatoes onto the beef (I like the rustic texture of hand-squeezed), and add garlic, wine, salt & sugar.  Put it in oven at 250 degrees for 5-8 hours.  The beef is done when it pulls apart easily and is fork tender.

Remove from the oven and let it slightly cool.  Remove the roast from the pot (keep the tomato and wine sauce in the pot for later!) and remove all of the large chunks of fat remaining and separate it from the beef.  Discard the fat.  Shred the beef back into the tomato and wine sauce.

Place the pot on the stove and simmer the sauce until the desired thickness is desired.  If the sauce is too thick, you can add beef broth, crushed tomatoes or water to thin.  Keep it covered and on low until you are ready to serve.

Cook the fresh pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water for just 1-2 minutes... the pasta will float when it is ready.  Remove it from the water with tongs and place it immediately into the beef ragu.  Toss to coat and add parmesan cheese and fresh basil just before serving.

Homemade pasta :

The pasta dough before boiling.
Homemade Pappardelle Pasta :

1 1/2 cups of flour
2 eggs

Start with a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Dump in the flour, then top with the eggs.  Put the mixer on medium and let the ingredients roll together until they form a ball.

*You may need to add a little bit (1-3 tablespoons?) of water or flour if the dough is too wet or too dry.  After a ball is formed, let the dough 'knead' on low-medium  in the mixer for 5-7 minutes until the dough is elastic.  Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 20 minutes.

When it is finished kneading, turn the dough out onto a floured board and kneed it by hand a couple of times.

From this stage, you can roll it out by hand with a rolling pin (or bottle of wine!), or put it through a pasta rolling machine.  Either way is pretty simple.  I've recently invested in this pasta machine that was very inexpensive.  If you plan to make a lot of pasta in the future it can make things a little easier.

By Hand : Roll the dough, flipping it, folding it and rolling it until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Cut it into 1" pieces with a knife, or a pizza wheel.  After cutting, you can cook it immediately, or let it dry on a baking sheet sprinkled with flour too keep the dough from sticking.

With Pasta Machine : Separate the dough into 6 pieces.  Flour the machine and dough well to keep it from sticking.  Feed it through the rolling/flattening part of the machine starting on the largest setting and progressing to a smaller setting each time you feed the dough through.  I find that flouring it each time helps to keep it from sticking.  After it has gone through the smallest (or 2nd to the smallest) setting, lay it flat and cut it into 1" strips with a knife, or a pizza wheel.  After cutting, you can cook it immediately, or let it dry on a baking sheet sprinkled with flour too keep the dough from sticking.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water (1 put at least 2 tablespoons of sea salt in a 6 quart pot).  Cook for just 1-2 minutes, or until the pasta floats and is tender.  Drain pasta water out and put the pasta directly into the sauce without rinsing.

This recipe is part of my "Tuscan Pasta Dinner Party"