Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bolognese Meat Sauce

This sauce is delicious. I served it to a small group and even knowing that the recipe had spent all afternoon on the stove, people requested the recipe. Please note that this is not a super tomato-y sauce. The meat is the main player and after simmering for hours and hours, it's silky smooth. Patience is required for this recipe though, it shouldn't be rushed and it requires three simmer downs, so this is the perfect recipe for a lazy weekend, preferably when the weather is not inviting you to go outdoors and there's a Top Chef marathon to watch.

I tried to stick closely to the recipe. I'd noted on the chowhound board many discussions about this recipe. Apparently, an earlier Hazan version of this recipe had smaller amounts of onion, celery, and carrot, so I went with the lower amounts. The recipe also calls for 1/8 tsp nutmeg, but I remembered one of my guests previously had mentioned a sensitivity to nutmeg and I only had ground, not fresh, so I decided to forgo the nutmeg.

The original recipe calls for 340g of ground beef, but I could only find ground beef at the store in 520g packages, so I scaled up. I'm very glad I did because it ensured that I have enough for leftovers for a day or two! I'd estimate this scaled version serves 6. I did not scale up the pasta.

Bolognese Meat Sauce (from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp butter, divided
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
520g ground beef chuck (you do not want to use lean or extra-lean)
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup dry white wine
1 796mL can whole Italian tomatoes in their juices (the recipe calls for cutting them up, I have a feeling they would fall apart during simmering if I'd just left them whole)
1 box pasta (I used a 375g box whole wheat fusilli, rigatoni is also recommended)
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table

1. Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on medium. Cook and stir until translucent.
2. Add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat.
3. Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork, stir well, and cook until the beef has lost its raw, red colour.
4. Add the milk and let it simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. (If adding nutmeg, add it here. Do not rush this step. It could take 30 minutes to an hour to simmer down.)
5. Add the wine, let it simmer until it has evaporated. (Once again, don't rush. The simmering could easily take 30 minutes.)
6. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down to low so that it simmers incredibly slowly with just an occasional bubble. Cook, uncovered for at least 3 hours, but longer is better, stirring from time to time. If it dries out, you can add 1/2 cup water or so.
7. Toss with cooked drained pasta, adding 1 tbsp of butter, and serve with Parmesan on the side.

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