Friday, August 04, 2006

Bolognese Revisited

I made bolognese a few weeks ago for dinner. After being dissatisfied with Lidia's recipe (hopefully the first and only time this happens) I cracked open my copy of Giada's "Everyday Italian." I was skeptical since the last dish I made from this book was fettucine alfredo that involved lemon, a combination that should never, ever be allowed to exist. I was pleasantly surprised. Giada's version was meaty and flavorful and a lot faster to make than Lidia's. My only complaint was that the meat to tomato ratio was off. I think I'm going to double the amount of tomato from now on.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 pound ground chuck beef
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (I'd use two if you like a good balance of meat and tomato)
1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chiffonade
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

In a 6 quart pot, add extra-virgin olive oil. When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions become very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the celery and carrot and saute for 5 minutes. Raise heat to high and add the ground beef. Saute, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1/2 hour. Finish bolognese with Pecorino Romano.

The recipe made enough for another meal, so I froze the leftovers for another time. Going back to work on Monday is always rough and since I get home so late, being able to defrost sauce and have dinner on the table in the time it takes to boil the pasta sounded very appealing.

When I heated up the bolognese I added a pint of tomatoes Mom and I canned last summer and the leftover pizza sauce from homemade pizza night to correct the balance. This time it was perfect. And the tiny bit of oregano from the pizza sauce really added a nice zing. Now if only I could get that to happen on the first try.

We had half a loaf of crusty French baguette leftover as well plus a selection of cheeses in the cheese drawer, so I decided to make garlic bread with cheese. I took a few tablespoons of softened butter and mixed in chopped parsley and a paste of garlic and kosher salt. I blended that together, cut the bread in half lengthwise and then spread the garlic parsley butter over both halves of the baguette. I shredded a handful of mozzarella, cheddar and Pecorino Romano and divided that evenly over both halves. Stuck it in my toaster oven on broil for a few minutes to melt the cheese and voila!

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