Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ragù alla Bolognese

So, I got a bit of a wild hair this past weekend. I decided that I was going to make lasagna completely from scratch. Sauce, noodles, everything. I got up this morning, went to the grocery store, then hauled up in my tiny kitchen for the rest of the day.
First order of business, a delicious meat sauce. I highly recommend this one. Traditional recipe, simmered for four hours. The bolognese works perfectly in a lasagna or simply tossed with spaghetti and topped with grated Parmesan.

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 2/3 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 1/4 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (28 oz.) can imported Italian plum tomatoes, torn into pieces, with juice

  1. Add oil, 3 tablespoons butter, and chopped onion in a heavy 3 1/2 quart pot and turn heat to medium. Cook and stir onion until it has become translucent.
  2. Stir in the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble meat with a fork, stir well and cook until browned.
  4. Add milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add fresh nutmeg and stir.
  5. Add wine and let it simmer until it has evaporated. 
  6. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.
  7. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it will begin to dry out and the fat will separate from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add 1/2 cup water as necessary. At the end of cooking, however, the water should be completely evaporated and the fat should separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.
* This recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

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