Why it Works: Got Milk?
This ragu calls for the unusual step of adding half-and-half to the ground meat mixture. Cooking meat with dairy products (milk is common) is a very old technique used throughout the Middle East and medieval Europe. Cooking meat in milk does two things: First, because the meat is cooking in a liquid, and not oil, the temperature of the meat cannot rise above that of boiling milk (somewhere around 212º F). This means the meat will be moist but not brown. A second benefit is flavor. As milk heats, its flavors are radically changed (compare the flavor of evaporated milk with fresh milk). These new flavors enhance meat’s flavor, making it even more rich and complex.