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Last night's extemporaneous ragu came out really well. Ragu in winter makes a great spaghetti-sauce. It's also something we can make with all-local ingredients, as long as we remember to keep dried herbs from the Summer, which we did this year in force.

Fried until translucent:

Three cups roughly chopped onion
Three cloves fresh garlic*
A half-cup mirepois (or 1/4 cup celery and carrot each, diced very fine)

Added and browned:

1 lb. ground lamb
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 oz. smoked pork jowl, meaty portion, chopped fine**

Added:

1 cup whole milk

Cook for 3 hours, stirring frequently, on medium-low, adding milk as it dries out. Do NOT let it stick.
[For this step, I use a pressure-cooker for 1 hour which takes no stirring and has identical results, if a little less rich than it COULD be, but probably shouldn't]

At the end of this, the milk was completely absorbed by the meat which had a soft, velvety texture. So it didn't curdle when I added:

1 Cup red wine
1 Cup tomato-paste (home canned in glass, not metal, if you... [ahem] can.
1 Quart chopped tomato (ditto)
A large teaspoon or two winter savory
A large teaspoon dried bush-basil (or two teaspoons italian basil)
A branch of fresh thyme
A teaspoon of sea salt
A dozen turns of the pepper-mill

Reduced on medium-high for 1/2 hour, stirring pretty much constantly.

Was it worth the effort? Yes.

*Not that three-year old bone-dry-rubbery-crap from China.
**good, dry-cut bacon just as good; none of that sealed-in-brine-to-raise-tare-weight stuff from faceless meatpacker plant somewhere the gods have abandoned. Yes, I'm a snob about my smoked pork products. Deal.

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