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Strozzapretti (Priest Stranglers)
Strozzapretti (Stroh-Tzuh-PRAY-Tee) or "priest strangler" is a traditional hand rolled and twisted pasta from the Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria regions of Italy. Strozzapreti are usually served with some form of a ragu sauce. There are various legends that surround the naming of this pasta. One is that priests so loved this pasta that they ate too quickly and choked themselves. Another claims that the pasta was meant to fill the priest to the choking point when invited for Sunday lunch so he wouldn't overindulge on the roast that followed.
Another legend has origins in Romagna where the Catholic Church owned a lot of land which it rented to local farmers. The farmer’s wives would customarily make this pasta for the local clergymen in order to keep in their good graces. The husbands would be so angered by what they considered corrupt priests eating their wives' food that they wished the priests would choke as they stuffed their mouth with it.
Strozzapretti with Beef Ragu
This sauce may also be served with penne, rigatoni, cavatelli, or any similar size pasta. I like to make the sauce a day before I plan to serve it. This way I can refrigerate it and skim off the excess fat that will accumulate on the surface. The flavor of the sauce also seems to get better the next day.
2 pounds beef short ribs
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 ounce) can pureed tomatoes
1 cup red wine
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
12-16 ounces strozzapretti or similar pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or oven-proof stockpot over medium-high heat.
Add the short ribs and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the ribs and set aside.
Add the onion and garlic to the stockpot, cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree, wine, and beef broth; bring the mixture to a boil. Return the short ribs to the stockpot. Cover the pot and put in the oven for 2-1/2 hours; check and stir occasionally during that time. The meat should be very tender and falling off the bones. Remove the ribs from the sauce; allow to cool.
Use a spoon to remove excess fat from the sauce or transfer to a container to refrigerate. When the meat to cool enough to handle, use your hands or 2 forks to shred the meat. Discard the bones. Add the shredded meat to the sauce.
You can proceed with the recipe now or refrigerate overnight.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. In another saucepan, heat the meat sauce. Add the sauce to the drained pasta and gently toss.
Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
Product of Italy. Finest quality durum wheat semolina to ensure the pasta has the proper elasticity to cook perfectly al dente.
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