Happy new year to all of my readers! I hope you had a wonderful time celebrating (or peaceful slumbers) and are as excited for 2019 as I am. The old year has gone, washed away with yesterday’s rain, but it cannot be forgotten for it had brought so many beautiful changes to our lives. We welcomed the birth of our second son, Maximus, in October, my husband started a new job in northern Indiana, where we now reside, we witnessed the marriages of three siblings just within the last six months, and oh so many other blessings, the list could go on for awhile! 2018 was a memorable year and I am already confident that 2019 won’t be left in the dust.
Like the “old year”, cooking trends come and go and yet there is something to be said about old-school, traditional, recipes that call for breaking a bit of sweat over the stove. With every new year, the collection of fast, easy, fool-proof and “under-30-minutes” recipes grows by the hundreds while the recipes that started it all seem to fade away.
This bolognese has no such claims and fits right into the old-school and traditional category. It is a dish full of coziness that finds you plunking down at the kitchen table, embracing a bowlful of pasta goodness and eating to your heart’s content all the while gazing out your window at a winter wonderland. Such musings have me craving a bowlful myself as minus the winter wonderland since we have yet to get any snow in our area.
This particular recipe I adapted from Lidia’s Mastering The Art of Italian Cuisine. It is a wonderful resource and I highly recommend it be added to your collection of cookbooks. While you are out shopping for ingredients, check your grocer’s pasta aisle for Italian bronze-cut pasta. Though a bit more expensive than most pastas you’ll find on the neighboring shelves, it is worth the splurge. The difference lies in the fact that the pasta is cut using a bronze die, which gives it a coarser texture and makes it superior in dishes such as bolognese. Mass produced pastas, on the other hand, are produced to look and feel shiny using teflon dies and thus loose their ability to give sauces a grip on their surfaces. The eating experience is also different, with a chewy texture and a wholesome mouthfeel that I love so much in pasta. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Ragu alla Bolognese
Makes about 2.5 quarts
In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and pork along with 1 cup of the dry wine. Mix well until all the liquid has been incorporated into the meat. Set aside.
Using a food processor, combine the prosciutto and garlic and grind into a dry paste. Transfer into a separate bowl and set aside.
Add the roughly chopped onion, celery stalk, and carrot to the food processor. Process for 15-20 seconds until the vegetable are finely minced, not pureed. Set aside.
Heat a dutch oven (4 to 7 quarts in size) over medium heat for at least 5 minutes and then add the olive oil and butter. Once hot, add the garlic and prosciutto and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the minced vegetables to the pot and cook, over medium-high heat, until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the beef and pork mixture along with 2 tsp of kosher salt. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring often. This will take 30-45 minutes, depending on how big your pot is.
In a separate saucepan, heat the chicken broth and cover with a lid. Keep warm over a low flame.
Add the remaining cup of dry wine to the meat mixture and cook until almost completely evaporated, 5-10 minutes. Move the meat and vegetables aside in the pot to create an empty space to which you will add the tomato paste. Allow it to toast for about a minute before incorporating it into the meat. Stir in the crushed tomatoes. Once again, continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Now that all of your ingredients (except for the chicken broth) have been added to the pot and most of the liquid boiled off, using a label, add enough of the hot chicken broth to cover all of the meat in the pot. Cover and adjust the heat to maintain slow, steady cooking with small bubbles breaking the surface.
Cook the mixture for 3 hours, checking and stirring the pot every 30 minutes. The liquid levels should and will be reducing throughout the 3 hours and you will need to add more hot broth as needed to keep the meat submerged.
Toward the end of the 3 hours, you should have a highly developed sauce with the meat seemingly suspended in it. If you simply have too much liquid then continue to cook the meat sauce uncovered until it reduces to the consistency described earlier.
Once finished cooking, you can skim off any excess fat if you feel the need and top it off with freshly ground black pepper.
Serve over your choice of pasta with the suggested cheese and fresh parsley. Any leftover sauce can be store in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to 6 months.
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
2 cups dry wine (red or white)
3 oz prosciutto
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 large celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
4 - 6 cups chicken stock or bone broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
10 oz canned San Marzano tomatoes and juices, crushed.
freshly ground black pepper
wide pasta such as pappardelle or tagliatelle, cooked to al dente.
freshly grated hard Italian cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
freshly chopped parsley