Sunday, February 4, 2007

Bolognese Meat Sauce

This might not be the most beautiful pasta sauce you have ever seen, but it is delicious.

Even though this has a few steps and cooks for a long time, this recipe is easy, but it is important that you be patient. This also makes delicious filling for cannelloni. When I use it for cannelloni, I roll crespelle, I don't stuff pasta tubes.

Bolognese Meat Sauce
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

Serves 4

1 tablespoon light vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter for the sauce, plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
½ cup chopped onion
⅔ cup chopped celery
⅔ cup chopped carrot
¾ pound ground beef, chuck recommended
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine (what you would like to drink with it)
1½ cups canned plum tomatoes, cut up with their juice
1 pound pasta (fresh tagliatelle and dried rigatoni are good)
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese at the table

Put the oil, butter, and chopped onion in a pan. I use a 3-quart saucier. Turn the heat to medium. Cook until the onion is translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrots. Cook, stirring the vegetables, for a couple of minutes.

Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Break up the meat with a wooden spatula, stir well, and cook just until the beef has lost its red color.

Add the milk and a tiny grating - about ⅛ teaspoon - of nutmeg, and stir. Don't use pre-ground nutmeg here. Let the milk simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. It will take a while, at least a half hour, but don't rush this step.

Add the wine, and let it simmer until it has evaporated completely. Again, don't rush this step - be patient; it's worth it. Add the tomatoes, and stir thoroughly to coat all the ingredients. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down so that the sauce cooks at a very low simmer, with just a random bubble breaking through to the surface now and then. You might have to use a heat diffuser. Cook uncovered for 3 hours, stirring from time to time. If the sauce dries out, add ½ cup of water whenever necessary to keep it from sticking. At the end, however, no water at all must be left, and the fat must separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

Add the extra tablespoon of butter, toss with cooked drained pasta, and serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese on the side.

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