March 9, 2010

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.

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  • BethP: I LOVE Bar Toto. Mostly their house made sausage. And the pizza with prosciutto and arugula. And the FRIES! It is our go-to too–I wonder if you and I have ever been there at the same time and not even known it!5 years ago

  • Margaret: It IS glorious. I love the feeling when I am in my own space, cooking something for a long time, and meandering in and out with other pleasures as well. It’s like all is well in the world. *grand soupir*
    p.s. hope you like the movie!5 years ago

  • BethP, I LOVE that pizza, and since I’ve never tried the homemade sausage I obviously need to order that soon! :)

    Margaret, I love the way you put it — the pleasure of food cooking, as well as whatever other pleasures are occupying you in the meantime. It’s like pleasure from every direction!5 years ago

  • Cadi: This type of cooking is what I begin to pine for at the end of summer, the cozy smells and and warmth that fills the house. It’s what Rainy Sundays are made for, glorious is the perfect word. At our house it’s almost always a roast chicken, pot of chicken stock or spaghetti sauce (meat-style of course). This reminds me that I need to make a big pot of sauce to freeze…I can’t wait for Sunday!5 years ago

  • Sara Rose: You need to try Jamie Oliver’s Bolognaise/Bolognese (whatever) sauce too. It’s some of the sexiest yet most comforting sauce for noodles E-V-E-R. But this, this is def worth a second glance too. MUAH!5 years ago

  • Amy C: The past few days I have been using the grill like it’s going out of business – this weather is making me want to eat anything with char marks.
    However, I just peeked at, and saw the impending rain and a sad “46 degrees” on monday. I think I will have my last hurrah that day…garlic bread loaded up with butter, pasta smothered in outrageous amounts of sauce (and there had better be some form of bacon in it!).

    Cadi, that is exactly what I make every rainy sunday too! Either roasted chicken, spaghetti sauce, or chicken stock! We must crave the same things…5 years ago

  • deanne: This isn’t about the bolognese sauce, but I just wanted to let you know I made the scalloped potatoes with ham that you posted previously last night. It was great!!! I was so proud of myself since I can’t really cook. Thanks for posting that and keep the recipes coming!5 years ago

  • EB: Isn’t there something magical about bolognese? All that meaty, creamy richness cooking away? Magic.5 years ago

  • s. stockwell: This is sounding so wonderful. Wish we had your black banquet right around the corner? Guess we will just improvise with our own sofa and cook up the bolognese. best from Montecito.5 years ago

  • babyfishmouth: I love a sauce like this, but I find it’s nice to put the carrot, celery and onion in the food processor and grind it up pretty small before browning it – same flavor, fewer odd chunks of carrot in your pasta.

    And I just noticed there’s no garlic in that recipe! Really?5 years ago

  • I know! No garlic! Shocking, isn’t? Also, your screen name cracked me up. :)5 years ago

  • Ellen: Made this over the weekend and my family loved it! Everyone had seconds and it fed 5 people! There was actually enough left over for me to take to lunch on Monday and share with a co-worker who liked it so much she asked for the recipe! This was truly one of the best things I have ever eaten! Also made the chocolate chip cookies with the pudding in them-they were a hit too! Again-I just love this blog!!5 years ago

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