Saturday, February 11, 2006

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Here you see homemade pasta with Bolognese sauce. This has become Gabriel's staple pasta sauce. Back in Minneapolis, our friend, Bill T. decided to take his new, Italian housemate to an Italian-American restaurant for dinner to make him feel more at home. This was the classic type of pre-foodie Italian restaurant with checkered table cloths, empty Chianti bottles serving as candle holders and a lot of spaghetti and meatballs coming out of the kitchen. Giampiero the housemate, being from Bologna and homesick ordered the spaghetti alla Bolognese and then threw a fit at what was served him. Over the car ride home, poor Bill got a lecture on "real" Italian food and especially what Bolognese isn't, namely tomato sauce with hamburger in it.

This lecture (related to me later by a disconcerted Bill) worried me a little since I always thought that Bolognese sauce was pretty much tomato sauce with hamburger in it. So I was really glad to be invited over to Simone and Valeria's house one evening for a spaghetti alla Bolognese dinner and they explained what all else is in the sauce. Here it is:

2 carrots peeled
2 yellow onions peeled
2 ribs of celery plus the leaves
2 cloves of garlic peeled
4 oz pancetta
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
3-15 oz cans of plum tomatoes
bay leaf
1 cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste

Place the first 5 ingredients in a food processor and chop until you reach almost a paste. When the vegetables are in very small bits this is called a "battuto". You may need to do this in batches. Make sure when you are processing the pancetta that you do it in combination with a vegetable so that it gets chopped and not just stuck on the blades. Heat the oil in a very large frying pan or a wide sauce pan over medium heat. Add the vegetable battuto and cook until all the vegetable liquid has evaporated and the mixture starts to fry in the oil and rendered pancetta fat. After the battuto has browned, remove it leaving any oil at the bottom of the pan and add the ground beef. Once the ground beef has browned very well, that is when it has become dark brown and crusty, return the battuto to the pan and add the tomatoes and bay leaf. When the sauce has come to the boil, reduce the heat to medium low or low and allow it to simmer slowly on the stove for about an hour. Check and stir the sauce periodically. Scrape off the dry sauce from the sides of the pan and reincorporate it into the sauce since it has a deliciously rich flavor. After about an hour, you will notice that your sauce has evaporated a lot and is becoming more solid. Now add the wine and continue to cook for another hour or so. Actually the longer and slower you cook this the better it will taste. Serve over any good, thick pasta (no angel hair bolognese, please)


Blogger woman wandering said...

Thank you for educating the Kiwi chick ... clearly I had no idea at all :)

1:07 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Wandering, Hey anytime. I tried reading your blog but I'm not well versed in Dutch (I think it was Dutch!) Sorry.

2:47 PM  
Blogger B said...

yum! here's another good recipe for bolognese:

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, don't eat this thing. Take a low cost flight to Bologna and taste real flavour.

7:31 PM  

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