Milk Braised Ragu With Peas and Beans

One of those dishes that doesn’t sound so appealing, but, it is simple and delicious, and completely unexpected. A great ragu for any “tomato haters”. Or just if you fancy something new and different.
I use a good sized deep saute pan or frying pan to make this ragu.
Serves 3-4


  • Olive oil
  • 50-70g of diced pancetta
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1-2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 400-500g minced beef/pork/veal (any one will do, and the beef, surprisingly, really does work well)
  • 2-3 tsp fennel seeds lightly crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 rosemary sprigs, needles removed and chopped
  • 200ml white wine
  • 1 small lemon, zest pared with a vegetable peeler, and juice. If it’s a larger lemon just use half. It depends how lemony you like it.
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 200g peas (frozen are great)
  • 200g small broad beans (frozen, or fresh if you are lucky enough to have them)
  • 2-3 tablespoons grated parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 400-500g rigatoni or similar pasta shape, shells would work


  1. Heat some olive oil in the pan and add the pancetta till it begins to gently brown and renders its fat.
  2. Add the onion and cook it gently till it goes soft
  3. Add the garlic for a couple of minutes to cook it off
  4. Now add the minced meat and cook it a slightly higher heat until the meat is beginning to colour
  5. At the same time add the fennel seeds, rosemary, and bay leaves
  6. Once the meat is really cooking, a couple of minutes, add the wine and let it simmer down to about half
  7. Add the lemon zest and juice, and the milk, don’t worry about it curdling, it will be fine once cooked
  8. Add a little salt and pepper
  9. Simmer gently with a lid for about 30 minutes to gently cook the dish
  10. You can either blanch the peas and beans in a pot of boiling water or just cook them in the ragu, whatever you prefer.
  11. Boil a pot of water and cook your rigatoni
  12. Stir in the grated parmesan to the ragu and let it melt and incorporate
Serve the rigatoni in bowls with the ragu spooned over. Some extra parmesan on the side is useful. A nice olive oil for drizzling might be to some people’s taste. A sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley wouldn’t go amiss….

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