Thus far with the recipes I’ve shared, I’ve made an effort to provide those that are fast and fairly easy. My Bolognese isn’t difficult to make but it has a lengthy list of ingredients and takes a long time to make so plan accordingly. I often find myself making this sauce on rainy, cold Sundays (like this one). In fact, one of my favorite ways to spend a Sunday is making sauce and watching movies (preferably something on TCM from the 30s). Heaven.
1 package of cubed pancetta (or two ½ inch slices of pancetta cubed) TIP: In a pinch, I’ve used prosciutto and bacon.
1 yellow onion (small dice, please)
2 or 3 garlic cloves very thinly sliced (use your paring knife to do this)
1 small(ish) fennel bulb- cored and very thinly sliced
1.5 to 2 carrots grated (use the large holes on your cheese grater)
2 or 3 stalks of celery diced
1 generous tablespoon dried oregano
1 dried bay leaf
Crushed chili flakes to taste
1lb of ground beef (I prefer 15% to 20% fat)
2 or 3 Italian sausages (I prefer the sweet) – removed from the casings
2 tablespoons of tomato paste (TIP: look for and buy the tube of tomato paste. It is less wasteful and will save you $$)
1 large carton chicken stock (you may not need it all)
Generous cup of red wine (your choice, I often use a zin)
1 large can of Italian tomatoes (I use ¾ of the can and freeze the rest to make za sauce or add to soups)
¼ cup of heavy cream
Fresh italian flat-leaf parsley
Salt and Pepper
Swirl some olive oil into a large stock pot/dutch oven and set on medium-low heat. Once the oil has heated, add in your pancetta, stirring occasionally. Once the pancetta has rendered its fat and is brown and smells yummy, toss in the onions, fennel, and celery. Let them sit for a couple of minutes to get gushy and good. Add in the grated carrot and stir. Add the sliced garlic once the rest of the veg has softened. Stir and let them all hang out for a couple more minutes. Salt and pepper the veg.
At this point remove all of the veg from the stock pot and put it in a bowl. Add the ground beef and sausage into your heated stock pot and turn up to medium-high heat. Remember to break up the meat while it browns with a wooden spoon.
Once the meat browns, create a little open spot and stick in the tomato paste. This “fries” the tomato paste giving it more depth of flavor. Let it sit for just a moment and then stir it into the ground beef/sausage mixture. Then add back in the veg and pig. You can now toss in your dried herbs and spices- the oregano, crushed pepper, and bay leaf. Heat through. Next, pour in enough stock to cover the mixture. Add the wine. Let everything hang out for awhile uncovered as you are trying to reduce the liquid (which intensifies the flavor). TIP: Don’t let it get to a rolling boil though because it will toughen the meat just a nice, fast simmer. Once the liquid has reduced a bit, add in the canned tomatoes and turn down the heat. Real bolognese uses only the tomato paste (or very little tomato). I like mine with a bit more tomato flavor so I use about ¾ or more of a large can. At this point, I also add my secret ingredient: parmigiano rinds (which I keep in my freezer specifically for this reason). It gives the sauce a salty, rich flavor. Let the sauce reduce down a bit again and then put the whole shebang on simmer and placing the pot lid on askew.
I’ll leave the sauce on the stove for hour or so, coming back every so often to stir, taste, and season. I’ll also add additional stock as needed (when the sauce gets too thick).
Once it gets close to chow o’clock, it’s time to blend. First, remove the leftover parm rind and bay leaf from the sauce. If you have an immersion blender, now is the time to pull it out from the recesses of your cabinetry. Stick the immersion blender into the pot and blend the sauce to a semi-smooth (or desired) consistency. TIP: Do it in short bursts as you don’t want to over blend and make it a paste (NASTY). You can also use a regular blender. Just process in small batches and don’t forget to pull the little plastic cap off of the top of the blender (but cover the opening with a dishtowel!) so the steam can release.
Once the sauce has been blended to the desired consistency, add the cream. Stir in some Italian parsley and basil at this point. Once again, you should taste and season. Guess what? It’s ready to serve. I always garnish with more fresh basil and parsley and, of course, freshly grated parmigiano.
Serving suggestions: I serve my bolognese with linguini or penne rigate. When I get bored of the noodle, I toast up slices of baguette and pour some of the sauce over and top with provolone, arugula, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and S&P. Scrumdelicious!
S’more Brownie Update
The s’more brownies were very good. However, the next time I’d like to serve them warm. I had to make the chocolate goodies earlier in the day, hours before the party, so they were room temp by the time we munched on them. Good, but not terrific. Serving them warm will make a big difference, methinks.
I don’t know if this is the next recipe I’m going to try out but I do promise that I’ll bring this to the next dinner party I’m invited too. http://kitchenconundrum.com/2011/02/creamsicle-pudding-recipe/ It’s called creamsicle pudding. When I was a kid, my grandma had a gigantic freezer in her garage that she kept filled with creamsicles, which is probably why I’m so obsessed with making this recipe. Nostalgia, I hear you calling my name.
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