Bologna is famous for being the food capital of Italy. The best-known pasta dishes from Bologna are tagliatelle (not spaghetti!) alla bolognese and lasagne alla bolognese, both made with fresh egg pasta and the famous ragù alla bolognese. Being the food capital of Italy, those are by far not the only typical pasta dishes from the city. Another example that I covered on this blog is tortellini in brodo. But also gramigna al ragù di salsiccia is a classic from Bologna. In its basic form the ragù only has three ingredients: sausage, tomatoes, and wine. Gramigna are short hollow tubes of pasta, made with an extruder. It is absolutely delicious in its simplicity.
There are three basic ways of giving pasta its shape: extrusion, rolling out, and hand-shaped. By far the most pasta that is consumed world-wide is extruded, as that is how most store-bought pasta is produced. Spaghetti is the best known example of this. Homemade pasta is most often rolled out or hand-shaped. Sheets of rolled-out fresh pasta dough are subsequently used to make ravioli, lasagne, tagliatelle, etc. The dough is rolled out using a rolling pin or a pasta machine. Examples of hand-shaped pasta include orecchiette, malloreddus, and cicatielli. For these no special equipment is needed, except in some cases something to make ridges.
The main reason why pasta is not being extruded at home as much, is that pasta extruders are not common in households anymore and that they are not as easy to work with. I acquired mine, a very simple hand-cranked model, in Italy and use it only once in a while. If you have a stand mixer, you can probably get a pasta extrusion attachment for it. You will need a different drawplate for each pasta shape. For gramigna you will need one that makes thin hollow tubes, either smooth (lisce) or with ridges (rigate). For easiest operation the dough needs to be as dry as possible while still being supple enough to work it through the extruder. If the dough is too sticky, it will stick together like crazy when it comes out the extruder.
If you don’t have a pasta extruder you can still prepare this tasty sausage ragù and serve it with another type of pasta.
75 grams (1/2 cup) semola di grano duro rimacinata (semolina flour)
75 grams (1/2 cup) Italian 00 flour
1 tsp olive oil
water as needed
200 grams (1/2 can) of peeled tomatoes, pureed in the food processor
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
2 sweet Italian pork sausages, about 170 grams (6 oz)
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Start by beating the egg.
Start by adding water by the tablespoon and wait until it has been incorporated fully into the dough. End by adding it by the teaspoon only. If you add too much water and the dough becomes sticky, add a bit more flour.
Once the dough has come together, switch over to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 10 minutes or until the dough is very smooth and pliable. Add a bit more flour if it becomes sticky. The dough should be as dry as you can get it while it is still smooth and pliable.
Simmer, uncovered, stirring now and then, until the sauce has a nice thick consistency. Once it is finished, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat. Add a bit of water if it becomes too dry.
An alternative is to extrude much longer tubes of dough and then cut them into gramigna, but I found this made them thinner (because the tubes stretch by their own weight) and didn’t give them the characteristic bent shape.
Make sure a large pot of water boils by the time you are finished making all of the gramigna.
The traditional wine pairing for this is obviously a sangiovese di romagna. This red from the region of Bologna is made from the same type of grapes as Chianti (i.e. sangiovese), but because of the richer soil the wine is a bit rounder. A regular Chianti would also work, if it is not too tannic. The acidity of sangiovese-based wines works well with both the tomatoes and the sausage. A delicious alternative is a cirò from Calabria, which also has considerable acidity.
My flashbacks are starting to get a bit out of season, as over this summer I have posted less recipes (and more restaurant reviews) than two years ago. These skewers of tender juicy chicken thigh meat are basted with a yakitori/teriyaki marinade. This way of cooking chicken yakitori on the grill is very easy and delicious.