Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bolognese Sauce

Before making this, I'd never eaten bolognese sauce.  I refuse to make spaghetti and tomato sauce because I'm not a fan.  Maybe I've only had blah-zay sauces, but in any case, I refuse to make it.  I'd heard really good things about bolognese sauce in general so I thought I would see what the fuss was all about.  Let me tell you, this sauce was fabulous!  The flavor is so complex that I don't even know how to describe it, but it's really good.

Bolognese sauce does take some time to make, but it's mostly inactive time on your part.  I definitely recommend you spend an afternoon with bolognese on the stove because this was so worth it!  This recipe makes a ton so there is plenty to freeze.  I used some of the leftovers to make Bolognese Lasagna which turned out really well too.  And since the bolognese is already made, it may be one of the quickest lasagna's you'll ever make.

Bolognese Sauce
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Don’t drain the pasta of its cooking water too meticulously when using this sauce; a little water left clinging to the noodles will help distribute the very thick sauce evenly into the noodles, as will adding an extra 2 tablespoons of butter along with the sauce. Top each serving with a little grated Parmesan and pass extra grated cheese at the table. 

6 Tbsp unsalted butter (I used 4 Tbsp butter & 2 Tbsp bacon grease)
1/2 small onion, finely minced
1 small/medium carrot, finely minced
1 celery stalk, finely minced
3 Tbsp tomato paste
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb ground beef, or combo of 3/4 lb ground beef and 3/4 lb ground pork 
1 tsp salt  
2 cups whole milk  
2 cups dry white wine (such as sauvignon blanc, an oaked chardonnay is not recommended)
2 cups chicken stock
1 parmesan cheese rind (removed from the wedge, cheese grated for serving)
2-28 oz cans crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes and crush by hand (avoid the ones packed in puree)
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped fine

Heat butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, carrot, and celery and saute until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Make a bare spot in the pan and add the tomato paste. Let it caramelize for about 2 minutes, then stir together with the vegetables until thickened and red. Add half the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground meat and 1 teaspoon salt; Stir the meat until the garlic and vegetables are incorporated. Do not brown them. Crumble meat with edge of wooden spoon to break apart into tiny pieces. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 4-6 minutes. The meat should be very fine without large or medium chunks.

Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 30 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 30 minutes longer.  Add chicken stock and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until stock evaporates, 30 minutes longer.

Add the rest of the garlic, the crushed tomatoes with juice, and stir well, then bring to simmer; Add the parmesan cheese rind and push it just below the surface (this will add flavor so use salt sparingly to taste until the end.)

Reduce heat to very low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with an occasional bubble or two at the surface, until liquid has evaporated, about 4 hours. When the sauce is done, carefully discard the cheese rind. Finish with the parsley. If desired, finish with a splash of olive oil, or butter. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste. Drain pasta from water, and return pasta to its own pot. Then add sauce to mix together with the pasta. Reserve some sauce to pass at the table.

Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days or frozen for several months. Warm over low heat before serving.

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