Dress your fresh strangozzi with this meaty, multitextured sauce-ground veal and whole chicken livers cooked in a tomato base-for a hearty dish that will delight carnivores and pasta-lovers simultaneously. This is also a great sauce to incorporate into risotto. If you are not enthusiastic about the flavor of chicken liver, use only 1/2 pound, for a subtle flavor boost. But if you love the organic richness of livers, as I do, use a whole pound. This recipe makes a big batch of sauce, so you can use half and freeze half (it will keep well for 4 to 6 weeks).
1 medium onion, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 medium carrot, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 medium stalk celery, cut in 1-inch chunks
4 plump garlic cloves, peeled
1½ pounds veal shoulder, coarsely ground
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound chicken livers, cleaned and finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
For cooking and dressing the pasta
1½ pounds homemade strangozzi
1 cup Grana Padano, freshly grated
extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing the pasta
For the sauce: Drop the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic into the food processor, and mince finely to an even-textured pestata. Crumble ground veal, it into to a bowl, breaking up any clumps of meat.
Pour the olive oil into the big skillet, and set it over medium-high heat. Scrape in the pestata, spread it around the pan, and let it cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to stick to the pan bottom, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat a bit, and scatter the ground veal in the pan, crumbling apart any clumps. Season the meat with a teaspoon salt, and stir the meat and pestata together. As the veal starts to sizzle and release its juices, raise the heat, and cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated and the meat is dry and lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Clear a space in the center of the pan, dump in the chicken livers, and cook them in the hot spot for a minute or two, until they're all sizzling and lightly colored, then stir the livers and veal together.
Pour in the white wine, bring it to a boil over high heat, and let it cook until almost completely evaporated. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and 2 cups of slosh water (used to rinse the tomato cans and
bowl), season with remaining teaspoon salt, and stir with the meats.
Bring the sauce to a boil, adjust the heat to keep it bubbling steadily, and let it cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook the sauce for another hour, or until it has good flavor and is reduced to a consistency you like for dressing pasta. You can use some of the sauce right away-you'll need half of it to dress strangozzi-or let it cool, then refrigerate or freeze for later use.
For cooking and dressing the pasta: Bring a large pot of well-salted water (at least 6 quarts water with 1 tablespoon salt) to a rolling boil. Heat half the meat sauce, about 3 cups, to a bare simmer in a wide skillet or sauté pan (if you've just made the sauce, use the same pan). If the sauce has cooled and thickened, loosen it with some of the pasta water.
Shake any excess flour from the nests of strangozzi, and drop all the pasta into the pot, stirring and separating the strands. Rapidly return the water to a rolling boil, and cook the strangozzi for about 5 minutes, stirring ccasionally, until barely al dente.
Lift out the pasta quickly, let it drain for a moment, and drop it into the simmering sauce. Over low heat, toss strangozzi and sauce together for a minute or two, until all the strands are coated and perfectly al dente. (Thin the sauce, if necessary, with hot pasta water, or thicken it quickly over higher heat).
Turn off the heat, sprinkle a cup or so of grated cheese over the strangozzi, and toss well. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, toss again, and heap the pasta in warm bowls. Serve immediately, passing more cheese at the table.