Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Classic Bolognese | March 28, 2011

Just when I was starting to get really bored with all of the options on the Food Network, my husband and I moved and got Directv and were happily introduced to the Cooking Channel.  There are a lot of great programs, but one of my favorites has to be Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day.  Basically, she promises that if you spend one day in the kitchen, you can have five nights worth of tasty, home cooked meals.

I never got on the “I hate Rachael Ray” bandwagon, but I was never her biggest fan, either.  I felt that her recipes were just okay, though I was certainly in favor of getting busy folks into the kitchen rather than spending time at the drive-through.  I was somewhat skeptical of the week in a day concept, but I decided to give it a go and spend a dreary Sunday afternoon getting all of the dishes ready for the week.  Suggestion for the Cooking Channel – for this show, since folks are cooking everything at once and thus shopping for everything at once, could you possibly provide a comprehensive shopping list (organized by food genre) along with the recipes?

This bolognese was the first dish up.  As most sauces and soups are, it’s pretty easy to put together – you just need a BIG stock pot and some time, especially since this recipe as-written represents a double batch.  Don’t balk at the chicken livers – they really do add a deep, earthy flavor to the sauce.  And of course, if at all possible, use homemade stock; I had homemade beef stock saved up from the last prime rib I roasted, and that really made a difference.  The end result is a meaty, hearty sauce with TONS of flavor.  It’s richer and less acidic than my usual marinara sauce, but if you’re in the mood for something really soul-satisfying, it definitely fits the bill.  Make sure you toast a baguette (or other crusty bread) to sop up every last drop.

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, finely diced
  • 4 ounces trimmed chicken livers, finely diced, optional, but recommended
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 small ribs celery, finely chopped, with leafy tops, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef (chuck or sirloin) and veal mix
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 pinches ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine (about 1/3 bottle)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans Italian pureed tomatoes
  • 1 pound egg tagliatelle or bucatini pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Warm 2 cups milk in small pot over lowest heat.  Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly brown. Then add the chicken livers, and cook almost through. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, rosemary, and bay leaves, and cook until tender, 10 minutes.  Add the ground meat and cook through breaking into pieces, but do not brown. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, clove, and stir in the wine and allow it to cook into the meat, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the warm milk to the meat and allow it to absorb into the meat for 1 minute. Stir in the beef stock, vegetable stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer over low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Divide the sauce in 1/2, cool, and freeze one batch. Cool and store the remainder for a make-ahead meal within the week. Alternately, cook pasta to al dente, thin the sauce a bit with a bit of starchy pasta water and toss with pasta dressed with butter to combine. Top with grated cheese and chopped celery leaves. Serve with green salad.

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2 Comments »

  1. The key is the nutmeg. I like a little shake of cinnamon as well.

    Comment by lexa — March 28, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

    • I am a little wary of the cinnamon – I blame the Goldschlager Debacle of 1998 – but I imagine that, used judiciously, it would add a nice spicy sweetness. I’ll give it a go next time!

      Comment by bettyjoan — March 28, 2011 @ 8:35 pm


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