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molten lava cake

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

I've mentioned in previous posts that Michael loved Marcella Hazan's recipes. Here's a recipe from her cookbook The Classic Italian Cookbook that we cooked together in February. We mostly followed her recipe just so but we left out nutmeg (didn't have any) and we only simmered for 1.5-2 hours before serving (we were hungry) this over spaghetti. Delicious! I usually opt for the quick meat sauce that can be made in 15 minutes but Michael wanted to try something different and assured me that this was worth the wait (he had made it in the past). Sure enough, this gave us a richer sauce with a hint of sweetness from the carrots.

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

"Ragù is not to be confused with ragoût. A ragoût is a French meat stew, while ragù is Bologna's meat sauce for seasoning its homemade pasta. The only thing they share is a common and justified origin in the verb ragoûter, which means "to excite the appetite."

There are three essential points you must remember to make a successful ragù:

  • The meat must be sautéed just barely long enough to lose its raw color. It must not brown or it will lose delicacy.
  • It must be cooked in milk before the tomatoes are added. This keeps the meat creamier and sweeter tasting.
  • It must cook at the merest simmer for a long, long time. The minimum is 3.5 hours; 5 is better

The union of tagliatelle and ragù is a marriage made in heaven, but ragù is also very good with tortellini, it is indispensable in lasagne, and it is excellent with such macaroni as rigatoni, ziti, conchiglie, and rotelle. Whenever a menu lists pasts alla bolognese, that means it is served with ragù.

For 6 servings, or 2.25 to 2.5 cups

2 Tbsp chopped yellow onion
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp chopped celery
2 Tbsp chopped carrot
3/4 lb ground lean beef, preferably chuck
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg [omitted]
2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped, with their juices

  1. An earthenware pot should be your first choice for making ragù. If you don't have one available, use a heavy, enameled cast-iron casserole, the deepest one you have (to keep the ragù from reducing too quickly). Put in the chopped onion, with all the oil and butter, and sauté briefly over medium heat until just translucent. Add the celery and carrot and cook gently for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the ground beef, crumbling it in the pot with a fork. Add 1 teaspoon salt, stir, and cook only until the meat has lost its raw, red color.
  3. Add the wine, turn the heat up to medium high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the wine has evaporated.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium, add the milk and the nutmeg, and cook until the milk has evaporated. Stir frequently.
  5. When the milk has evaporated, add the tomatoes and stir thoroughly. When the tomatoes have started to bubble, turn the heat down until the sauce cooks at the laziest simmer, just an occasional bubble. Cook, uncovered, for a minimum of 3.5 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and correct for salt. (If you cannot watch the sauce for such a long stretch, you can turn off the heat and resume cooking it later on. But do fnish cooking it in one day.)

Note: Ragù can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen. Reheat until it simmers for about 15 minutes before using."

Thread at cooking

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I just ate my dinner, but now I am hungry once again.

That looks amazingly delicious, which is not something I would typically say about something that included carrots.

I was skeptical about the carrots too until I tasted it

Man do i wish cmmunchkin ate red meat.:) That looks awesome.

Substitute in ground turkey. I haven't tried it with this recipe but I've used it in several other ground beef recipes to great success.

Hmmmm...she would probably like that. I will suggest it.

Onion mixed in with the meat sauce kick butt. I also like to add mushrooms as well. The carrots seem like they would be a nice touch. But 2 tbsps, seem like such a small amount to add.

Thanks for the ideas...I'll try those too. Could probably have easily added more carrots but their sweetness was clearly present in the final sauce.

Whenever I cook a bolognese, I base it off of this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_28747,00.html There are a number of more ingredients, but to me... every flavor in this one is worth it. I'm not a fan of nutmeg, but I put everything in this recipe in there. I think I'll be making this for Sunday dinner again, s'been a while.

Oh nice...thanks for the recipe! This sounds really tasty too.

(Deleted comment)

Re: Marcella is God

Thanks very much for the recipe recommendations. I just looked up the carrots one (is it 'carrots with parmesan cheese' on page 365?) and that looks really good.

(Deleted comment)

Re: Marcella is God

Yum...thanks for the tips!

I've never tried it without the nutmeg (which I use as a rub on the meat) and it is a perfect sauce for making in a crock pot (cook it on low during the workday). It makes for a very rich dinner.

I oughtta buy some nutmeg and see what all the fuss is about for this spice...

It's a great spice with a variety of baking and other cooking applications. It's really a "must have" on the spice rack along with cinnamon and fresh vanilla beans.
It looks like I won't find either passion fruit or guava (my supplier is out of stock/season) so quite possibly it'll be Dutch Apple Pie vice the Lilikoi Chiffon Pie I'd planned. That will definitely call for cinnamon and nutmeg. :-)

I hadn't done as much baking as other kinds of cooking so I had managed to get by with not stocking nutmeg. The other arena that seemed to mention nutmeg a lot were cocktail recipes. mmmm...apple pie? My favorite!

I'll see about measuring and at least post a recipe. My pies never come out photogenically and Dutch Apple Pie is very non-photogenic

more importantly, how does it taste? :)

Generally, pretty darn good. The crumbley, sugary top is the reason I like this type of apple pie. But, there's a bit of a trick to the fillings.
A lot depends on the way I prepare the pie filling. I like to use Granny Smiths and some of the tarter apple varieties over the sweet apples. Now because apples aren't a constant level of tart, I have to play with the amount of sugar in the filling. If the apples are too tart and I don't compensate for it properly the filling will bake up a tad too tart for my tastes. If the apples I picked out are too sweet the filling won't have that "tang" I like. One way to get around this is to pre-cook the filling which allows you to play with the sugar content. But if you're doing them the old fashioned way, you cook the apples in the pie. Which means that the sugar content is set before you can actually taste how it cooks up.

a crumbly sugary top? I LOVE that kind of pie! And thanks for explaining about adjusting the sugar levels for the filling. Probably obvious to a baker but I just hadn't thought about it before.

a crumbly sugary top? I LOVE that kind of pie!

You're more than welcome. The top has always been a favorite of mine since I can remember.
I guess this means you might be adding nutmeg to the spice rack?


It is rich, deep, relaxing, exotic... Try it in mashed pototoes. Purrr.

interesting...thanks for the recommendation!

Oh, that looks beautiful. I might have to try this after I get settled.

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OK...I've now added ground nutmeg to my spice rack. I usually just make a basic fast sauce too but I have to admit the long-simmering Bolognese was noticeably tastier than the sauce I usually whip up.

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