Monday, January 14, 2013

Mama Mia!

I'm excited to finally have something to post! I was so busy during the holidays (and our house had the plague) that I didn't have time to post anything. Now that I've got more time, I don't have anything to post about...until now.

We had friends over for dinner Saturday night and whenever I cook for a dinner party, big or small, I like to do something fun and different. Sometimes I'll go with the basics - chili, lasagna, roasted chicken breasts, etc - but usually I like to have a more unique dish that someone wouldn't have regularly. I picked a few people's brains but I still couldn't decide (thanks Jaime and mom!). Finally I chose shrimp burgers since it was supposed to be so nice outside. But low and behold, when I went to make another new dish on Friday night, I realized that the new dish took 4 hrs to make. Well it being 3:30p already, that wasn't going to work. So I decided to defer the dish to Saturday night and scrap the shrimp burgers.

Here is the recipe for the most delicious pasta that is truly restaurant quality - Classic Ragu Bolognese. The recipe card is from Bon Appetit so I must have saved it from my Cook's magazine. Other than the cooking time (most of it is simmer time, not actual you cooking), it's super easy to make. I made a few tweaks to the recipe and everyone LOVED it. And I took their opinions seriously since one of them was Italian.

This recipe is great because the sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead but be aware it takes 3.5-4hrs to make (simmer time).

Classic Ragu Bolognese
makes 4-6 servings; cook/prep time 3.5 hrs
2 Tbs EVOO
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz ground beef (85% lean)
6 oz ground veal*
3 oz thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped**
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 cups beef or chicken stock
3 Tbs tomato paste (small can)
1 cup whole milk
1 lb fettuccine noodles
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in large pot/pan over medium heat. Add onions, celery and carrots. Saute until soft (8-10 min). Add meats and garlic. Sautee until browned, being sure to break up the meat into small pieces. Add wine; boil 1 minute, stirring often and scraping up browned bits (deglazing the pan). Add 2 1/2 cups stock and the tomato paste; stir to blend. Reduce heat to very low and gently simmer, stirring occassionally for 1.5 hours.

Bring milk to simmer in sauce pan then gradually add to sauce. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer over low heat, stirring occassionally, for 45min-1hr. You can add more stock if you need the sauce thinner. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Boil noodles according to package instructions. Add the noodles to the sauce and toss until well coated. You can add pasta water to thin the sauce if necessary. Serve in pasta bowls and garnish with a lemon slice. I found that a little lemon juice over top of the pasta helped cut down on the richness.

*can substitute ground beef for veal
**can subsitute proscuitto, bacon or salted ham. I used ham seasoning (1 pack/cube of ham bouillon) since one of my guests didn't eat pork
Bon Appetit!

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