Recipes from Sarteano: Pici al Ragù Toscano

February 21, 2024  |  By Peg Kern
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Chef Chiara of our Authentic Italian Cooking Vacation in the Val d'Orcia Valley.Meet Chef Chiara, the culinary instructor behind our Authentic Tuscan Cooking in the Val d’Orcia Valley and this recipe for Pici al Ragù Toscano!

Chef Chiara left her career in journalism after genetic testing revealed her intolerance for many staple ingredients in Italian cuisine. She embarked on a mission to create flavorful alternatives for herself and others with dietary restrictions.

Chef Chiara and her brother laughing over foodShe would become an accomplished Chef and author of the book series ‘Ricette Senza’ (Recipes Without), featuring recipes without dairy products, eggs and soy, and ’50 desserts without dairy products and eggs,’ both published by Nardini Editore. She has continued to keep a blog following her culinary adventures, though it is currently undergoing a redesign. 

She has been teaching for several years at the International Chef Academy in Siena as a teacher of vegan and gluten-free cooking, but she is also an expert on traditional Tuscan cuisine. Chiara seamlessly blends flavor with techniques to create mouthwatering dishes for every palate. She currently runs the Residenza d’Epoca Palazzo Pio III in Sarteano (Siena), which she owns together with her brother. In addition to cooking for guests, she also organizes cooking classes that can range in style from traditional to theme-specific. Chiara possesses a wealth of culinary knowledge and creativity that make Italian Cooking accessible to people with common dietary restrictions. You can join her classes on our  culinary vacation to the Val d’Orcia Valley

What is Pici al Ragù Toscano?

Pici, a traditional Tuscan pasta resembling thick spaghetti, holds a rich history dating back to ancient Etruscan times. Handmade with just flour, water, and salt, this pasta showcases the simplicity and authenticity of Italian cuisine.

Pici has humble origins as a staple for peasants in southern Tuscany, particularly Siena, Val d’Orcia, and Val di Chiana. It has evolved into a beloved dish celebrated for its hearty texture and versatility. Originally served with olive oil and seared onion, pici has since become a canvas for a variety of flavorful sauces, including the iconic Tuscan ragù featured here in this recipe.

Chiara’s Pici al Ragù Toscano highlights the essence of pure Tuscan cuisine with a savory ragù made from meat, parsley, white wine, and tomatoes. Simmered to perfection, this ragù pairs impeccably with the texture of handmade pici pasta, creating a satisfying and comforting meal reminiscent of the Tuscan countryside.

Chef Chiara and her publisher selling cookbooks at a marketRecipe for Pici al Ragù Toscano (Hand Rolled Pici noodles with Tuscan Ragù)

Serves: 6
Prep time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Cook method: simmer

Ingredients for making Pici from scratch:

  • 600 gr of flour
  • 300 gr of water
  • 25 gr olive oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Corn flour or durum wheat flour (to separate the noodles) 

Ingredients for the Ragu:

  • 500 gr minced meat (pork and beef)
  • 1 celery stalks
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 golden onion
  • 1 sprig of parsley
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 400 gr. Peeled canned tomatoes
  • 100 gr. Extra virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of salt

Preparing hand rolled pici pastaDirections:

1. Pour flour onto a board and make a well in the center.

2. Carefully add oil, salt, water stirring constantly with a fork and gradually incorporating more flour.

3. Knead well (at least 5 minutes) and let rest for 30 minutes, in a covered bowl.

4. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a thickness of half an inch. Cut into strips. 

5. Roll out each strip until it resembles a thick spaghetti. To make sure the pasta cooks evenly, make each “picio” roughly the same thickness. As you make them, to avoid them from sticking to one another, place on a tray with plenty of corn flour (or durum wheat flour).

Simmering Tuscan Ragu

6. Chop the celery, carrot, onion and parsley. 

7. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, add the vegetables and sauté

8. Over low heat, then add the minced meat and when it’s cooked, add the wine. 

9. When the wine has evaporated, add the tomatoes and salt. 

10. Cook over low heat for about 1 hour.

11. Boil your pici for about 15 min or till the dough is al dente

12. Drain the pici and season to taste.

Serve and enjoy!


By Peg Kern

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