Friday, June 26, 2009

Company's Coming It's Time For A Beef Bolognese

Richard, Carol & Mike enjoying Pizza & Wine in Italy

Our good friends Richard and Carol Stange came to visit us this past weekend. We met them during a Rick Steve's tour of Europe and became instant friends. The food we shared, especially in Italy and France, was fantastic, so when they came knocking on our door I wanted to make sure the food I served would be worthy of the occasion. They would eat two dinners with us, so I made one French entree (that will be another blog) and one Italian entree. On February 17, 2008 I found a fantastic recipe for Beef Bolognese in the New York Times Magazine written by Christine Muhlke titled "Slow Food".  She had adapted this from Insieme in Manhattan. The bolognese is a meaty ragu or gravy, if you prefer, that is enriched with milk. Slow food is certainly an appropriate title given that you will spend two hours in basic prep work and an additional three hours simmering and skimming the gravy. Worth the effort? You bet!

Richard, Carol, Mary & Mike Indianapolis June 2009

Beef Bolognese
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 cup finely chopped carrots
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1/3 pound pancetta, finely chopped
1 1/3 cups tomato paste
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups red wine
2 2/3 cups whole canned tomatoes, drained of juices and torn
4 cups meat stock
Rotini or pappardelle, cooked al dente 
Grated Parmesan.

  • Combine the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan set over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, celery and carrots, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to brighten in color, about 20 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, and just before it starts to brown, add the beef and pancetta. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is thoroughly browned, about 25 minutes.  Add the milk and cook at a lively simmer until the milk is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until the pan is almost dry. Stir in the tomatoes and the stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Skim the fat off the surface. Toss with al dente rotini or pappardelle and serve with grated Parmesan.  Serves 6
Beef Bolognese on Spaghetti

Sometimes, o.k. many times, I make a mistake when cooking and this time was no exception. I purchased prosciutto instead of pancetta.  This gave the gravy a smoky taste. It wasn't bad just different. If you can, try this with the pappardelle pasta (I located it at our local Trader Joe's). It is an Italian flat pasta that is cut into a long ribbon shape. The name comes from the Italian word pappare a verb which means "to gobble up" - and gobble you shall do. Life is good - enjoy!

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