Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ragu a la Bolognese

This was good again for a change of pace but I still prefer the Marinara Magnifica recipe and just adding some browned beef or sausage for when I want a meat sauce.  That sauce recipe I think is just going to be very hard to top!  I did get a pretty good photo of this sauce this time.  I think the fresh basil leaves gave it that real gourmet look and contrasted beautifully with the redness of the sauce :).

To be honest, I didn't even realize that Bolognese sauce isn't even meant to be a tomato based sauce!  Guess it's been way Americanized from its original intent.  I couldn't tell you how authentic this recipe is because I guess I've never had a true Bolognese sauce until this, perhaps.  As far as I can tell from doing some research on Google, it seems to be authentic as very little tomato is actually used in the recipe, it uses the multiple in-between cook times which are needed to help build the complex flavors, and milk is used to tenderize the meat.

The original recipe says to let the sauce simmer for 2 hours in an oven heated to 350 degrees but since I wasn't sure that I had a large enough oven-proof vessel to handle this, I did my simmering on the stove and am showing my modified cooking method below.  Speaking of, I really should invest in a dutch oven given all the cooking I do.  What brand do you recommend?  You can click on the source link to see the original method if you'd like to try that.

Like almost every Italian sauce that I've ever made, this recipe makes a lot (I'd estimate that it makes a good 4-5 meals for 2 people as a sauce over noodles).  But, given the long simmering time, you might as well just make a big pot and let it go then freeze the leftovers in small portions for the future. 

I don't think it'll be going into my personal rotation because I prefer more tomato flavor.  If anything it almost reminded Chris and me of Cincinnati-Style Chili!  I think it might be because it consisted of a beef sauce simmered for a long time and maybe the nutmeg in the sauce that made it a little similar.  Either that or it's because I love that chili so much my mind was being tricked into thinking it was eating it.  Strange, huh?

Ragu a la Bolognese
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  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound mixed ground pork/beef (Used mild italian sausage)
  • 7 oz bacon or pancetta, sliced (Used turkey bacon)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 1/2 cups beef broth*
  • 2 1/2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • pinch of dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
*Note: A dry red wine can be substituted for the beef broth.  I ended up using 2 cups (1 can) broth and then 1 1/2 cups of red Shiraz wine.

  1. In a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt butter and oil.  Add the bacon and cook for 4 minutes.  Add the vegetables and garlic then cook an additional 5 minutes.  Crumble the ground meat into the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes, until browned.
  2. Pour in milk and nutmeg.  Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, broth (and/or wine), fresh and dry basil, bay leaves, pepper, and salt.  Bring the sauce back to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. After sauce as rested for a little while, skim the grease off the top of the sauce.  Adjust seasonings as needed and serve over hot pasta. 
  5. If desired, divide leftover portions into containers and freeze.  To re-used, put frozen sauce container in fridge the evening before you plan on serving it.  This will allow it time to thaw before you re-heat it on the stove or in the microwave.
Source: Delicious Magazine, June 2009 as seen on Kayotic Kitchen

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