Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bolognese Sauce

My mom makes the best spaghetti with meat sauce. It was a favorite meal growing up and the one I wanted her to make for friends when they came over or when I came home during a break from college. My Dad fixed breakfast for us when we were in high school and if I was lucky there would be enough left over from the night before to poach eggs in. Served with toast on the side it is amazing. I've only come upon one restaurant that serves eggs like this and it took me right back. 

Mom's sauce. I still love it. My problem is that I can't seem to duplicate it. I have her recipe and have followed it more times than I can count, but still, it doesn't turn out the same as when she makes it. I tend to be one of those that tastes then adds without measure when cooking. Pretty soon I'm trying to balance disobedient flavors after tossing in a bit too much of whatever ingredient I was playing with. So maybe that's the deal. I've tried making her sauce two ways: By following her instructions as written and by adding additional ingredients in an attempt to make it taste like I remember. She swears she just follows the recipe. Mom?

That said....I usually don't begin a dish without consulting a good cook or cookbook first, but I guess I've tried Bolognese Sauce often enough because I was able to come up with a good one last week using what I had available in the kitchen. Since it worked out well I wrote it down, then double checked it again last night. It is different than my Mom's, but I like it. (Recipe follows.)

Margaret's Bolognese Sauce:

1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
5 large celery stalks, sliced

Saute the above in 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat until softened.

Add 1 tsp minced garlic and saute for a couple minutes longer.

Meanwhile, brown 2 lb ground beef and drain. Add beef to vegetables along with:

3 14.5 oz cans small diced tomatoes with juice
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
3/4 cup red wine (I used a bottle of what we had open so I'm assuming any good red wine would be fine)
2 tbsp brown sugar
dried basil and oregano
1 tsp salt

Simmer for 1 1/2  - 2 hours.  Add more wine, water or beef broth if it gets too thick while simmering and more seasonings to taste when nearly finished.

Cook the fettuccine in salted water for a couple minutes less than the package suggests, then drain and finish cooking it in the sauce. The starch from the pasta will thicken it.

Serve with good hard Italian cheese grated over the top. I used Italian Grana Padano. It's what was in the fridge.

Some Bolognese recipes call for bacon, pancetta, a pinch of red chili pepper flakes or finishing the sauce with a half cup or so of cream......any of which I would have added had I had them on hand. I use good low fat ground beef.  Also, I used Rustichella d'Abruzzo pasta. It's a little more expensive but I like it because it's thicker than most and has a great bite. 

Hope you enjoy your week......and if you make this......that you enjoy it too!

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