Before Winter’s Over Bolognese
If the weather’s going to warm up and get all spring-y, I better hurry up and tell you about the last lingering hearty cold-weather recipes before it’s too late. Which leads me, with no ado at all, to a no-holds-barred chilly night dinner of bolognese.
Do you have a restaurant that is your go-to for all sorts of occasions, be it a celebration, lazy brunch, or candlelit dinner? Ours is a little Italian brasserie (is that an oxymoron?) a few blocks down the street. The prices are reasonable enough that we can swing in for lunch or dinner, but the atmosphere is sexy enough to feel like a treat. They have ridonkulously good fries (not quite shoe string, but skinnier than most), a steak that can bring tears to your eyes, and a burger that will make you forget the worst hangover. But for a cold weather lunch, I can’t resist their bolognese served with thick paparadelle. With a glass of wine and a seat on the black banquet across from my husband, I’m in heaven.
There are few things more comforting than shuffling around the house on a weekend with a pot of ragu simmering on the stove. It is the same sensation as puttering around the house with a roast chicken in the oven. The fragrance of a wholesome, sustaining dinner fills the air and fills you with a historic, elemental sense of satisfaction: I have put together this and that and now it cooks away while I sit here and read, you think. How glorious! And it is glorious. Even more so when you spoon out some of the rich sauce on top of a bowl of noodles, and settle down on the couch for a movie (thanks, Margaret!). This is the type of cooking and eating that ranks sky high in the book of satisfaction: nominal effort, slow-cooking, and a deeply luxurious result.
from How to Cook Everything
makes a little more than 1 quart
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1/4 cup minced bacon
1/2 pound lean ground pork
1/2 pound lean ground beef (or use all beef)
3/4 cup dry white wine (or juice from the tomatoes)
1 28- or 35-ounce can while plum tomatoes, drained
1 cup beef or chicken stock
1 cup cream, half and half or milk
Pour the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-low, and a minute later, add the onion, carrot, celery, and bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring and breaking up any clumps, until all traces of red are gone, about 5 minutes. Add the wine or tomato juice, raise the heat a bit, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most the liquid is evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands and add them to the pan; stir, then add the stock. Turn the heat to low and cook at a slow simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes and any clumps of meat that remain. After an hour or so, add salt and pepper, Cook for at least another hour, until much of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is very thick.
Add the cream, half and half, or milk and cook for another 15 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve with any dried or fresh pasta.