Monday, May 6, 2013

Mario Batali's Ragu Bolognese

A classic Italian dish is Ragu Bolognese.  Every Italian family has their own version of the recipe.  I copied this one from Iron Chef Mario Batalli.  It takes awhile to make, but it then makes many meals.  I think we've had it four times and I still have enough in the freezer to have it again a couple of times.  I guess that's how they do it in Italy- make a big batch, then always have it on hand for a quick dinner.  I've altered it slightly (I know, who I am to alter Mario Batali?  But, with all the tomato, I thought it needed a bit of sugar to cut the acid.  And I made a couple of other noted changes.)

Mario Batali's Ragu Bolognese

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons butter
2 onions, finely chopped
4 ribs celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, chopped, crushed or sliced
2 1/2 pounds ground or chopped meats (Batali's recipe suggested 1 lb. ground pork, 1 lb. ground veal, and 1/2 pound ground pancetta.  I used 1 lb. ground beef, 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, and 1/2 pound finely chopped bacon.  He said this is what varies from family to family- what meats they use.)
1 4.5 ounce tube tomato paste
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup whole milk or half and half
1 cup dry white wine (I substituted chicken stock)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 lb. fresh pasta (his recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds, but I felt this ratio of sauce to pasta was better)
1/2 cup grated Pamigiano- Reggiano cheese

Heat the oil and butter in a heavy 6-8 quart pot or dutch oven.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic.  Add salt.  Cook and stir until vegetables are soft, but not browned.
Add the meats.  Increase the heat to high and cook and stir for about 10-15 minutes.  Meats should be dark brown and the fat rendered completely from the meat.  You will see fat pooled  in the bottom of the pan.  Add the tomato paste and sugar and cook another 2-3 minutes.  It should turn a rusty orange color.  Then add the milk and cook another couple of minutes.  Then add the wine (or substitute) and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2-3 hours.  (Your kitchen will smell like Italian heaven!)  Add salt and pepper (I added a pinch of red pepper flakes).  Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.  YUMMY!   Let cool.  Put in 2 cup containers and store in the freezer or the fridge for up to a week.

When you're ready to make the pasta:
Heat a large pot of salted water (Batali says it should be as salty as the sea!)  Add the pasta.  Cook 1 minute less than the package says.  It should be al dente.  Drain, but reserve some of the pasta water.

In a large saute' pan, heat 1 1/2- 2 cups of the sauce.  Add the cooked pasta and about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water.  Stir to coat pasta.  Add more water pasta water if needed.  Add the cheese and several drizzles of olive oil.  Stir until creamy.  Toss in the parsley.  Serve with more cheese on top.

1 comment:

Kay Hinton said...

Geoffrey Zakarian (Iron chef) said that the key to a great bolognese sauce is to put in a parmesan cheese rind as you simmer it. I tried it in the batch I made yesterday. We haven't eaten it yet, but the spoonful I had was good!