About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Simona's Bolognese

I hadn't been to Italy in 41 years but we just returned from a trip through Tuscany, Florence and Rome and I'm stoked on pasta, pecorino, and Prada.  Since my last visit, touring Tuscany has come into vogue With it 's rustic, satisfying, vibrant foods.  I enjoyed whole grilled fish, pizza Napola , osso buco and tagliatelle with bolognese sauce among the many delicious meals.

I decided to pursue the bolognese sauce for this blog because I really never understood it's difference from a tomato before.  I grew up on "spaghetti" sauce which was a combination of meat and tomato sauce.  In Italy pasta comes with a variety of tomato  or cream sauces but bolognese is where the meat comes in and meat means, beef or beef and pork.

I asked one of our guides, Simona, about her sauce and she was very clear; onion, celery, carrot, finely ground meat, tomato, red wine and a little seasoning.  She added pork in the winter. NO garlic!
A similar version was discussed with serveral restauraters - onion, celery, carrot, meat, tomato, wine and no garlic; then cook it down for a long time.  I just couldn't resist the garlic.

I've tried to recreate what I had in a charming restaurant off the Via Veneto in Rome but I've still got work to do on the texture.  Italian bolognese has a fine texture so whirling in a processor recreates the proper texture or a heart to heart with your butcher may help.  It is important all the ingredients must be fine.  The best way I found is to process the the sauce in batches for a short time (20 seconds) in a food processor. Not like baby food but a thick and hearty sauce that easily clings to pasta.

2 tbls olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup minced celery
1 tbls minced garlic clove
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
4oz pancetta diced
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup beef stock
1 cup red wine
3 tbls tomato paste
1 28 oz can San Mazano tomatos,chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp pepper

In a large, heavy dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat add the pancetta and cook until fat renders but not quite brown. Add the next three ingredients and cook 4 to 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, thyme, basil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Add meat and cook until all the pink is gone. Spoon off excess fat and liquid.  Add tomato paste and milk and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, then add the stock and wine and bring to a simmer. Add the tomatoes and chop up the tomatoes with kitchen shears. Season with remaining salt and pepper and cook down on medium low, stirring frequently for 45 minutes.  Process in two batches for 15-20 seconds and reheat.  Serve over pappardelle or your favorite pasta and garnish with parmesan.

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