Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A proper bolognese sauce

I should preface anything I say here with the following: My family heritage is Irish and English. You won't find a drop of Italian blood anywhere. Not a drop.

I really wanted to make a proper bolognese sauce for linguine the other night. I had it in my mind how good it was going to be. I could just about smell and taste it. I could imagine what it would feel like to eat it. Yes, I said that. I am a foodie.

I went to the grocery store and discovered that I was not only unable to get pancetta but there was not a bit of ground veal to be found. I live in the boondocks. However, I pressed on! I bought salt pork for the pancetta and used straight ground chuck instead of a mix of chuck and veal. I suppose this was more humane anyway.

This is a far cry from the "spaghetti sauce" I ate as a child. That was tomato sauce with meat. This is meat sauce with tomato. There is a world of difference between the two really. I think of bolognese sauce as a savory meat pudding almost. It is thick, creamy and delicious. The meat is tender and practically melts into the sauce... it becomes the sauce in a way.

I am going to stop now. You just have to try it for yourself.

Bolognese sauce
6 ounces salt pork or pancetta, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 1/4 cups finely chopped carrots
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 crushed tomatoes
3 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 pound linguine pasta, prepared according to package directions
Finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until it is crisp and has released almost all of its fat, about 6 minutes.

Add the onion, carrots, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very soft and lightly browned around the edges, about 6 minutes.

Add the ground chuck and cook, stirring to break up any clumps, until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the , garlic, and crushed tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so that the sauce just simmers. Simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.

After the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, add the milk a little at a time, like 1 tablespoon or so at a time over 1 1/2 hours. By the end of the 1 1/2 hours, the milk should all be in and the sauce should be very thick.

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