Cooking Italy: Ragu alla Bolognese from La Cucina Italiana~

19 01 2011

This is the third bolognese ragu sause we’ve made in Cooking Italy.  Each has been just a little different…one sweeter than the rest…one meatier than the rest (this one), and one that seemed just right…  That isn’t to say that they weren’t all good sauces…they were, but so very different for being made with the same ingredients (more or less).

This sauce comes from La Cucina Italiana.  Our hostess, Angela, and I both have subscriptions.   From time to time we’ll each get excited about recipes we see there!  This is a recipe from 2009, that was easy to put together, but I found the cooking time estimates to be far from accurate.  The problem is…it’s bolognese…ragu…it wants to be cooked long and slow, and build the layers of flavor slowly…concentrating each addition as much as you can before adding the next component.  I see a lot of hurry-up recipes, and that really doesn’t work.  It’s a precious sauce…it’s worth the time.  Most of the time, a sauce like this is worth doubling…but this one…this one is pretty big to start with.  Neither Angela nor I recommend doubling this recipe.  I got about 8 cups of sauce out of a single batch, BUT…I used more meat by about 3/4 of a pound over all, which also means I adjusted the other ingredients slightly as well.  So…let’s get started!

A little mise en place…onion, carrot, celery and butter to get started with.  Once the veggies have cooked down and are translucent, add the pancetta and sausage.  Cook just until the rawness is gone from the meat.  Add the beef, pork and veal in turn, cooking each until no longer pink and the meat is well broken up.  Cook at a brisk simmer until the meat juices are fully reduced.

Reducing the meat juices reduces the liquids and intensifies the flavors.  We’re going to cook down the initial meat juices, then add tomato and meat broth and simmer that down.  When that has reduced some, we’ll be adding wine.  Some prefer red, others prefer white.  I used a Chianti in my sauce.

Long simmering breaks the meat down as well, especially once you add the wine.  The meat will break down into individual bits rather than chunks so that it’s more likely to spread across the pasta.  The picture above shows how the sauce looked after I stirred in the final addition of milk.  I know it sounds completely odd to add milk to a meat sauce, but it’s part of the character of the Bolognese region.  They have a great deal of milk, so they use it every way they can.  The milk binds the sauce while it mellows the acids in the tomato and wine.  I chose not to pull any of the fat off my sauce.  There really wasn’t all that much when I spread it out over 3 containers and a saucepan.

Here’s our finished sauce with spinach linguini.  I think the tomato paste helped with the deeper red color.  Of course, pureeing the tomato products pretty much made sure that they were dispersed equally throughout the sauce as well.  The tomatoes I used were our own canned San Marzano tomatoes.  I should keep track of how many I use! LOL!  It’s getting time to plant again…how many pints do I need to can for next year?  We’re certainly loving having these!

Tasting Notes~
I’m not sure whether I like this sauce better than Marcella Hazan’s Classic Bolognese…but I like both better than I liked the Essentials Bolognese.  That one was just too sweet for me.  At least as a meat sauce…  I like this one, but it’s expensive…veal…pancetta…  So, if budget has anything to say about it, I’ll be making the Classic Hazan Bolognese for now. Veal is usually rather cost prohibitive where I live, but we keep an eye out!  I’d love to be able to lay all three sauces out side by side for comparison.  With only 2 of us to eat, that’s not likely to happen…unless there’s a BIG potluck! LOL!  Another Cooking Italy chef recently hooked me up with a Mario Batali recipe for bolognese.  There’s another one to try! *Ü*  I’ll give it a try, but the cooking time is very short by comparison…so we’ll see!  Meanwhile, I’ve got a freezer full of bolognese for any occasion!




6 responses

8 12 2014
Kevin Schneider

The sweetness comes from the way-too-much carrot. Forget the veal…it has zero flavor. Try a combination of beef ribs and round steak. While the meat is browning, make a pestata with the Trinity. Take out the meat and use the pestata to pick up the fond. If it’s dry add butter. Stick with the Genovese-style recipes. They’re the real Italan cooks.

23 01 2011

Very nice to see the process photos and have the comparison of the three sauces…thanks for the research! It looks great.

20 01 2011

The sauce looks amazing, but Hazan was my “first”and will always be my favorite as well. You’re so right about the need to go low and slow with a ragu. One of my dreams is to take a class at the NYC cooking school associated with La Cucina Italiana.

20 01 2011
Can't Believe We Ate...

Which of her Bolognese recipes do you prefer?

20 01 2011

This looks great! I could eat that any day of the week!!!

I saw on FFWD you said your from Orville CA. My sister Joyce Murphy lives in Orville!

20 01 2011
Can't Believe We Ate...

How fun! I can’t say that I know her…but who knows!?! It’s a small town, perhaps our paths have crossed, or do cross and we don’t even know it!

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