Monday, November 26, 2012

ragu alla bolognese

Are you tired of turkey yet? If looking for a break in between the feasts that are Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would like to suggest this dish. It is cozy and comforting (nice for winter evenings) and a good change up from the large roast with multiple sides. Also, I think this recipe is a great example of how simple simple (inexpensive) ingredients can be transformed by technique and time.

When I initially made this dish, I doubled the recipe and froze about three-quarters of it in dinner sized portions to be defrosted when the craving struck. It has felt like such a luxury this fall to have this dish for a weeknight supper.

I am pretty sure my husband fell in love with me a little more after I made this for him. It is nice after 13 years of marriage to still be able to surprise the one I love with a wonderful new meal.

The recipe is from My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. Ms. Weiss writes the lovely blog The Wednesday Chef and lives in Germany with her husband and baby son. Her new book is part memoir, part cookbook and all loveliness. The writing is very charming. I think I read through the whole book in a weekend and on that Sunday afternoon, I made this pasta dish. If you have someone in your life who loves food and reading, I think My Berlin Kitchen would make a wonderful present!

ragu alla bolognese

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, finely minced
2 large carrots, finely minced (you want roughly equal amounts of minced onion and carrot)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup red wine (open a fresh bottle and drink the rest with dinner)
1 28-ounce can peeled San Marzano tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1) Put the oil and butter in a large cast-iron pot over medium heat, to melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, until the onion is well cooked. Do not let it take on any color. Add the minced carrots and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring now and then.

2) Add the ground meat to the pot, and using a wooden spoon, stir and chop up the meat so that it cooks and breaks down into uniformly tiny pieces. Raise the heat to medium-high or even high as you do this. It takes a good amount of elbow grease and a little bit of time. Continue to stir and cook until the meat is no longer pink (at no point, however, should the meat be browning). There will be liquid at the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until that liquid has mostly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

3) Add the wine and stir well to combine. Simmer until the wine has mostly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

4) Add the pureed tomatoes and the salt and stir well to combine. The sauce will come to a simmer almost instantly. Lower the heat to the lowest possible setting, put the lid on the pot, and let the sauce simmer for as long as you possibly can, stirring it occasionally. Seven hours would be wonderful, 5 hours is pretty good, but any less than 3 and you're really missing out. The longer you cook the sauce, the richer and more flavorful it will get. At some point in the cooking process, the fat will separate from the sauce and float at the top, so just give the sauce a good stir every so often to reincorporate the fat.

5) At the end of the cooking time, taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. Then serve tossed with pasta or use in a classic lasagne (this recipe makes enough for a 9 x 13-inch pan). If you plan on freezing the sauce let it cool completely before putting into freezer bags or other plastic containers.

1 comment:

  1. you just reminded me of one of my favorite winter dinners. I look forward to trying out THIS recipe!