My Italian 1960s playlist – and a spiced beef ragu' (Guy Grossi recipe)

I have been having such fun being on leave from work. One of the highlights has been listening to Spotify and the “italyonmymind” playlist that I have compiled. It is filled with Italian songs from the 1960s (and a couple from the 1970s). I listen to it whilst cooking. Mamma and my sister travelled to Italy in 1963 by ship before I was born for an extended holiday. They brought back a whole lot of 7 inch singles of popular Italian music and in subsequent years my cousins kept sending more over to Australia. The songs I heard on the turntable at home in the early 1970s are the songs I now have on my Spotify playlist – artists like Mina, Bobby Solo, Wilma Goich, Gigliola Cinquetti. What amazing memories! Today I listened to my playlist and cooked a special lunch. It was special because Mark and I are both on holidays from work and we are doing all those things around the house we have longed to do but haven’t had the time to. I used my KitchenAid pasta extruder for the second time – I had received it for Christmas in 2012 – and made bucatini (like thick spaghetti with holes).

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To accompany the bucatini I made a sauce I had never made before – a variation on a spiced veal ragù (ragù di vitello speziato) from the Guy Grossi cookbook that I am giving away in an Instagram photo competition, which is to celebrate my 2014 new look blog format. This book is one of my favourite and I have written about it before in a blog post in 2012. The recipe called for veal but being unable to find any at the market, used yearling beef instead. The sauce is rich with a base of soffritto (onion, carrots and celery) and uses many spices and herbs including cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, sage and bay leaves. After a bit over an hour of simmering, the yearling beef was so tender, having been cooked in red wine and chicken stock. It went beautifully with the homemade bucatini – I scattered on lots of Grana Padano and we had a late Italian style (3pm) lunch, accompanied by a glass of Nebbiolo. I served the bucatini with ragù in my new Mud handmade porcelain bowls (and bread on my Mud red platter – a Christmas gift). And we listened to Tony Renis, singing “Quando quando quando” (YouTube clip after the recipe below).

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Spiced beef ragù
1kg yearling beef topside, cut into bite size pieces
3/4 cup olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped and seeds removed
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 stick celery, finely diced
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoon sage leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
3/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
1/4 tsp cloves, ground
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup red wine
3 and 3/4 cups chicken stock (preferably home made)
Salt and pepper to taste

Using a large heavy bottomed saucepan, heat up half the oil on medium heat and brown the meat in batches (3-4 minutes). Wipe the saucepan dry, add the rest of the oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook on low/medium heat until translucent then add the carrot, celery, chilli, herbs and spices. Cook for a few minutes then add the tomato paste. Cook for a few more minutes then add the browned beef. After a couple more minutes, add the red wine and chicken stock. When it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 and 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender (veal takes about an hour). Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pasta or soft polenta.

This song is a 70s version of the song, which Tony Renis sang in the 1962 movie Appuntamento in Riviera and at the 1962 Festival di Sanremo (Italian song contest). Unfortunately YouTube wouldn’t let me embed that clip (which is brilliant as it is viewed through a 1960s TV screen) so here is a live version with the lovely singer Gigliola Cinquetti on the right hand side of the screen doing some back up vocals and wearing a gorgeous shimmering dress. Check out Tony’s dance moves about 1 minute into the clip. What a classic!

Now that I am able to embed video clips in my posts (part of my 2014 upgrade), I hope to make it a regular feature in future blog posts. I would love to hear your thoughts on the clips of my favourite old Italian songs and whether you enjoy them. Grazie!

24 Comments

  • Nice post. I have memories of listening to my sister’s records in the mid fifties…a certain Marino Marini comes to mind, and I think he did a version of Quando, quando, quando. If ever there was an unfortunate name it must be Tony Renis….I can hardly read the “R”:)

    • I don’t know Marino Marini – I will look him up. With respect to Tony Renis – I never thought of it that way! As it is pronounced “rare-nis” rather than “ree-nis” – it just didn’t cross my mind. Now I will think about it in an entirely different way… Hehe

  • bakeritalia says:

    Your spezzatino looks brilliant, funny I just bought some razza Chianina today so I can make some so I’m borrowing Guy’s flavours now- thanks!
    Great post as always

  • Michelle says:

    Love the new format. And the music. Oh, yeah, and that ragù looks awfully good too!

    • Thanks for the feedback. Yes I like the idea if sharing a bit of my cooking music – it’s all about having fun whilst you’re doing it as well as trying to make an amazing meal!

  • Love those old song. And Volare… a bit earlier (late 50s) but still a classic!

  • Pecora Nera says:

    I love the recipe, spicy food is my favorite. Perhaps I should have dragged Mrs Sensible to Bangladesh to live. And the song? Wonderfull I am almost old enough to remember it on the radio. At the moment I am driving Mrs Sensible mad by wailing quando, quando, quando, quaaaaannndddooooo like a cat

  • Yum! I love beef ragu~

  • Aleksandra says:

    Hi, I just wanted to say what a joy it was to discover your blog. I live in Sydney and though my family is not from Italy but rather the Balkans, I completely understand and relate to your view that cooking and eating is a medium to accessing history and feelings of connectedness to culture.

    My boyfriend however is Italian so I enjoy Italian food very much and appreciate the place of the kitchen in the lives of Italians.. I must say – congratulations on a great blog. I really hope to see more posts – keep them coming – you have a new visitor who will make sure to frequent the site!

    • thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by and taking the time to write a comment. Sounds like you get my feelings of food and culture completely! Th Balkans are very close to where my father is from (Istria – now Croatia) so our cultures are not that dissimilar! enjoy reading X

  • Aleksandra says:

    I made this yesterday and it was soooooooooo good.!!!!!!!!

  • […] recipes spiced beef ragu’ braised beef with […]

  • Louisa says:

    Hi Paola, I love the idea of combining music, photographs, and recipes. I actually work for a company where you can add interactive layers (like recipes and photographs and music) to a video. You could include Quando, Quando, Quando, and then put the recipes, sound clips, and photographs onto the video timeline. It’s free to use and you can import Youtube videos… It’s called Videopath if you’d like to try it out.
    Just thought it would be a very cool video/cooking/art combination! Louisa

  • Julie says:

    Hello, I’ve just started following your beautiful blog, what great recipes, bringing back lots of wonderful memories of trips to Italy. I would love to be able to listen to your Spotify playlist … is it available publicly? Thanks, Julie

    • dear Julie, thanks so much for visiting my blog. I thought my playlist was public on Spotify, maybe it is not. Let me look into it & get back to you. It may be a couple of days though.

    • Julie I think I have worked out it. You need to Follow me (Paola Bacchia) on spotify and the lost should be available! Let me know if it works

      • Julie says:

        Thanks so much Paola, I can now listen to it! Great songs. I made your Baked Nectarines with Ginger the other day … wow, they were fantastic!

        • That is so cool Julie, enjoy the songs. They are mainly old ones and I just love them! Ah the nectarines – I have yet to make them this year, you have just reminded me of that recipe! Glad you liked them and they turned out well

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