Ragout fin is a dish made primarily in France and Germany, where it is known as wurzfleisch. The traditional dish is known for its long list of ingredients — some of which are not readily available in some areas — and the multi-stage cooking process that is required. Although there are variations, the original recipe is a combination of many meats, including veal, sweetbreads, chicken and fish that are cooked in a stock and then thickened with a roux. To complete the dish, cheese is sprinkled over the surface and then heated under a broiler to melt it. While it can be served straight from an earthenware bowl or mug, it also can be prepared and then served in a pastry shell.
The main ingredient in ragout fin is the meat. The dish uses many types of meat, and some variations on the recipe actually use less of a variety of meats and focus more on the products that are familiar to household cooks. Originally, the meats that were used included not only veal, chicken and fish, but also sweetbreads, beef tongue, beef brain and marrow. In later recipes, this has been translated into just veal or pork, with the occasional call for offal.
The first step in making ragout fin is to cook the meats. They are prepared by being boiled in liquid. One classic preparation technique that is not specific to this dish is to boil all of the meat together in water and vinegar with some salt and pepper. The vinegar helps to draw out the sometimes overpowering, mineral-like flavor of the internal organs of the animal. Another way to cook the meat is to slowly fry the parts in butter or oil until they are cooked through, although this method can sometimes create rubbery meat if the timing is off.
After the meat has finished cooking in the sauce, a roux is prepared. This is a combination of flour and butter or oil. The mixture is cooked until the raw flavor of the flour has disappeared and the pale roux begins to take on some color. Mushrooms are added to the roux and cooked until they release their moisture and begin to reduce in size.
The two different sauces are mixed together, allowing the roux to thicken the meats and the accompanying liquid. The completed soup is poured into an oven-safe mug or bowl and sprinkled with cheese. The soup is then put under a broiler and the cheese is allowed to melt and brown a little. This finished dish can then be served.
Variations of the recipe for ragout fin include the removal of the sweetbreads and other meats, instead relying only on veal or pork with some chicken for the flavor. When plating the meal, instead of a bowl, a pastry shell can be used to create a sort of pot pie. The sauce in which the meat of the ragout fin cooks also can be embellished by adding heavy cream or butter to create a thicker, richer soup.