Bloomsday Recipe – Joyce’s Moo-Cow Ragout


James Joyce’ Portrait of a Pasta with Ragout

“Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls.” Ulysses

Bloomsday Recipe – Joyce’s Moo-Cow Ragout (literary recipes)

Tonno B. and JJ. A tiny bit.
…A Joycean meat sauce for square spaghetti.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 5 hrs
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 23000 kcal


  • cutting board
  • chefs knife
  • pots
  • mouths and forks
  • wine
  • more wine
  • and more wine


  • 8 Whole tomatoes vine ripened, you can mix and match varieties
  • 1 Onion yellow or white
  • 1 Carrot any color you prefer. Orange is fine though
  • 1 Celery stalk or 2 or 3, whatever you prefer
  • 1 Clove of Garlic …removing the cloves core is optional but I do.
  • 1 glass of red (!) wine …don't worry about red grape tannic stomach upset like JJ. They break down during the cooking
  • A pinch of an unnamed brown spice …or cinnamon. (As always, adjust or change to personal taste)
  • 200 grams of ground Moo-Moo …beef. Preferably from the Dublin countryside, though Friuli Venezia Giulia would work as well.
  • 200 grams ground baby Moo-Moo 
  • 200 grams of ground pork
  • 480 grams tagliatelle egg noodles. You can make'em or buy the best you can. Bubt the broth… make yourself, please.
  • Water or meat broth
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated)
  • A PhD in Music Theory* *not actually required for this recipe
  • 3 square pans
  • 1 square pot
  • 1 cup Whole Milk


  • After evenly chopping the onion, garlic, celery and carrot sauté in a saucepan or pot gently for 10-15 min. in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper,
  • remove and Brown the ground pork, add the beef and finally the veal on high heat
  • Once the meat has browned, salt and pepper, and after evenly chopping the onion, garlic, celery and carrot, add them. Add a glass of good dry red wine, and once evaporated
  • then the peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes, stir and lower the heat.
  • cook for a half hour then add the milk,
  • Cook slowly for 1-2 hours, adding meat broth or water as needed. then another 1-2 hours. then another 1-2 hours. then another 1-2 hours…. some people cook the thing for days, quite literally. But 3-4 hours should be enough for most.
  • Note… you can mix and match ground or hand-pureed (a sharp knife or two, attention and patience is required) meats and flavor as you will, (it makes a difference and a traditionalist might cringe understandably but someone had to actually, you know, take the time to cook the stuff,) remove a thing or add another, use sweet onion or scallion, lamb, fowl, kangaroo, buffalo… even reptile.
  • The whole alchemy is tied to gently cooking the stuff low and slow until it all blends into a forkful of delight. Anyway…boil the tagliatelle in abundant salted water:
  • don't overcook the pasta
  • Once ready, actually a little before, out it goes. And when ready, ladle the ragout over the noodles and add freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve with a medium structured red wine. And wonder why anyone would eat anything else…except, maybe, a stracotto – which will be for the next JJ recipe….


Late in the afternoon, after you’ve hurried through the usual daily chores, walk out into the darkening streets to the covered market. It will be closing by then but if you hurry you can make your way down the aisle, cluttered now with all the leftover vegetable leafs, fallen fruit and crumpled paper that have accumulated over the day’s buying and selling, to the that last group of open vendors in the back. Their lights will still be on, even though they, to, have begun to clean up. Move quickly though and don’t dawdle like a fly on the wall. Then as you approach you realize it doesn’t matter, you’re too late, the herb and spice vendor has already left for the day. You will have to accept that, that you will not have the ingredient you were expecting, the special one, the one you so desired. Go home.
Once you’re in the kitchen chop the firm, fragrant garlic and sauté in the square pan on the back right burner. Once the garlic has permeated the oil with its flavor put in the ground moo-moo and brown it. Add salt and pepper. As the meat cooks throw in a pinch of the fragrant mellow brown spice that I can’t name, you’ll just have to figure it out for yourself, and let the three ingredients collect themselves into one part of the final dish.
Move to the cutting board and chop the onion, carrots and celery into thin, clear, half-moon pieces on the wood, square and hard, solid below the knife as the fumes waft into your eyes since you forgot to back away, or didn’t know, you weren’t supposed to be stung by the fumes, sage, veal, pork, 2nd and then ..
Third square pan on the front right burner the glistening red tomatoes, sweet, oil in the pan warming and bubbling, no seeds, tomatoes in, intoxicating odor of the sun beneath which these tomatoes ripened, sunshine, skinless, wine, salt in the earth overlooking the blue. Window light white tablecloth in the warming kitchen, hours, broth, meat cooking and. .
Thenyoufillthegreatsquarepotwithwaterand..boliandsaltyouputinthetagliatelleand.afewminuteslateryoud rainandplacethestillwarm.noodles..inthewiththetomatoesfirstand..sauteand.thenaddthetomatoesand..mix’’sflavors. .Butnospicenot..theone.youwanted. .
Once all the square pans have been emptied and their contents collected and mixed in with the pasta add just a bit of extra virgin olive oil. After your guests have sat down freshly grate the Parmesan cheese and watch as the cream-colored flakes keep falling, forever gently falling, on the pasta and the sauce.
Serve with a good bottle of Italian white wine from Trieste. (The red stuff gives me a terrible heartburn.)
Joyce and the politics of food:
Keyword Bloomsday, James Joyce, Spaghetti

For more literary recipes from Pasta Noir:

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