Monday, January 11, 2010

Bolognese Sauce

No joking around with this post. Bolognese is serious stuff. The dish originates in the northern Italian city of Bologna, also known as "the fat city." It is not just a meat sauce; the "true" ingredients are hotly debated. Thank God that the Bolognese delegation of Accademia Italiana della Cucina voted that an authentic rendition only contains beef, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, broth, red wine, and milk or cream. And the rules don't stop here. The width and thickness of the tagliatelle (fresh egg noodles) with which this sauce is traditionally served are noted by a golden noodle on a plaque in the Bologna city hall.

bolognese pasta

Below are the Ingredients and Instructions, mixed, as you will find them in Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food.

Ingredients and Instructions
Heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces pancetta (or bacon), diced fine
Cook over medium heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add:
1 small onion, diced fine
1 celery stalk, diced fine
1 carrot, diced fine
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 sage leaves
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 12 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, heat in a large heavy-bottomed pan, preferably cast iron:
1 tablespoon olive oil
Add and brown over medium-high heat, in two batches:
1 pound skirt steak, cut into 1/8-inch cubes
4 ounces pork shoulder, coarsely ground
Cook until the meat is a nice chestnut color. Once all the meat browned, pour in:
1 cup dry white wine
Reduce the wine by half, scraping the brown bits off the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the browned meat and the deglazing juices to the tender vegetables with:
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Measure and stir together:
2 cups beef or chicken broth
1.5 cups milk
Pour enough of this liquid into the pot to bring it to the level of the meat and vegetables. Simmer gently until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours. As the liquid reduces, keep topping it up with the rest of the broth and milk, and skimming the fat that rises to the surface. Near the end, add a couple tablespoons of heavy cream. This helps tie the sauce together. When the meat is tender, remove the sauce from the heat and season to taste with more salt, if needed, add:
Fresh-ground black pepper

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