Thursday, December 11, 2008

sunday supper: bolognese of my dreams

Marcella Hazan's magical bolognese. As far as I'm concerned, there is no reason to go looking for another recipe. This is exactly what you want bolognese to taste like, smell like, look like, sound like. This is the sauce you turn to when you're simply craving pasta in it's classic and true form. And the only thing difficult about this recipe is having the patience to cook it as long as you should - no shortcuts allowed. If I had one complaint - one teeny, tiny, probably sacrilegious complaint - it's maybe that this can be quite greasy. I know fat is a good thing and I use the fattier chuck meat, but I couldn't stop myself from skimming off a little bit of the fat as it cooked. I don't know, I have a problem. Recipe after the jump:

From Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

NOTE: I took a few liberties with ingredient amounts, which I've noted below. Still awesome.
1 Tbs vegetable oil
3 Tbs butter plus 1 Tbs for tossing the pasta
1/2 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup chopped carrot
3/4 pound ground beef chuck (I used a whole pound)
Black pepper, fresh from the mill
1 cup whole milk
Whole nutmeg
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice (I used a whole 28 oz can)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta (I used 1 pound of dried rigatoni)
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat to medium. Cook until the onion's translucent, then add the celery and carrot and cook for 2 minutes more until coated well.

Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper; crumble the meat with a fork and stir until the beef has lost its raw, red color.

Now the cool part: add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating--about 1/8 teaspoon--of nutmeg and stir.

Add the wine, let it simmer until it's evaporated, then add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all the ingredients.

When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so the sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers (just an intermittent bubble here and there). Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While the sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it begins to dry out and the fat separates from the meat. To keep it from sticking, continue the cooking, adding 1/2 cup of water whenever necessary. At the end, however, no water at all must be left and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

Cook pasta, drain, then add the pasta to the sauce with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Toss to coat evenly and serve with grated parmiggiano-reggiano.


Leah said...

I made this last year, and you're right. Hands-down best bolognese. Very labor-intensive, but well worth it. I admit I did skim some of the orange fat after it cooled...

B.A.B. said...

I have been making this recipe for 28 years and it is not greasy!! I do not know what you are doing wrong.

Lady from Milan. (KB)