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Happy Sunday Everyone!
Welcome to another edition of Sunday Gravy, where I, hopefully, engage, encourage and impress with my epicurean talents and tantalizing recipes.
Or some such shit.
Again, this recipe was via a very solid request from our own Scotchnaut on one of the Saturday morning open threads. He requested, I complied. That’s how that shit works.
We’ve got a fun one today which also adds yet ANOTHER Italian recipe to the Sunday Gravy repertoire and you know what that means!
Although this time it also means this.
Fuck yes it does.
A classic bolognese sauce doesn’t have a whole ton of ingredients and it’s not overly difficult to make although there are several time consuming steps along the way. Best to remember that shit when attempting this sauce.
Since the sauce seemed simple at first I wanted to step up my own difficulty level, because I’m a goddamn idiot like that, by making my own pasta AND grinding the meat used in the dish.
Some of you may remember that we’ve ground our own meat before.
That was from the post where I built the better burger from scratch.
Sounds easy enough, right? Especially since I’ve got the badass Kitchenaid 600 Professional with all of the badass attachments.
Not so fucking fast my friends.
First we had to address a goddamn equipment anomaly.
If you’ve been paying close attention during this season of Sunday Gravy you may have noticed that I had built a 2 week window between actually cooking a dish and posting a related Sunday Gravy post. This was most noticeable on “specialty” posts like say Saint Patrick’s Day. If any of you wondered why I was talking about Saint Paddy’s Day 2 fucking weeks after March 17th, well now you know.
The reason for the 2 week gap is for just such a situation as what happened here.
When attempting to make my bolognese the week before last I encountered a very frustrating problem when the grinder attachment refused to stay in place and started oscillating around the goddamn mixer like a fucking asshole and just basically pissing me right the fuck off.
Upon close inspection I identified the problem.
The thumbscrew that holds the attachments in place had a wee problem that required me to order a replacement. Let me show you what.
That’s the old thumbscrew on the bottom and the new and most definitely improved replacement part up top.
Go ahead and enlarge that photo too.
The old screw was a shitty piece of plastic attached to an aluminum screw while the replacement part is one piece of milled steel. Note the point on the bottom screw. Rather note the fact that there AIN’T NO POINT on the bottom screw. That’ll do it alright.
Since my Kitchenaid mixer is just a few years old this begs the question: Why in the absolute FUCK didn’t they give me something like that new screw up there instead of the shitty “destined to fail” hybrid motherfucker that they did?
You know I love this goddamn mixer fiercely but this bugged me. Two lessons here. First lesson, if you’re going to buy a Kitchenaid stand mixer be proactive and order that solid metal piece when you order the mixer and fuck that plastic fucking thing in the ass. The new one was less than 10 bucks on Amazon.
Second lesson? NEVER buy version 1.0 of ANYTHING!
Here endeth the lesson.
Since I did have to order the thumbscrew I lost one of my “grace” weeks waiting for the new part to be delivered.
So bolognese sauce.
Bolognese is not a red or marinara sauce like the Mother Sauce.
It is a meat based sauce so it’s technically a ragu.
No. Not the bottled shit in the jar, a real Italian ragu.
The sauce is made with a few simple ingredients like fatty meat, a “sofrito” or mirepoix of onion, celery and carrot that are all cooked in stages with milk, then white wine and finally a small amount of tomatoes until a rich meaty sauce is achieved.
When doing my research the name of cookbook author and cook, Marcella Hazan kept popping up. Marcella was born in Italy, immigrated to the US, married Victor Hazan and basically taught herself to cook by remembering tastes. She also was a famous cookbook author who wrote “The Classic Italian Cookbook” released in 1973. Many cooks consider her the pioneer of Italian American cooking and many still refer to her as one of the foremost authorities on Italian cuisine.
Her bolognese sauce is considered to be the “gold standard” for a classic bolognese so why the fuck wouldn’t I try my hand at that?
Her recipe is published online courtesy of the New York Times website. I tried my best to be as true to her recipe as possible. The recipe below was taken verbatim from the NY Times site.
Let’s do this.
Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese sauce.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons butter plus 1 tablespoon for tossing the pasta
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ⅔ cup chopped celery
- ⅔ cup chopped carrot
- ¾ pound ground beef chuck (or you can use 1 part pork to 2 parts beef)
- Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
- 1 cup whole milk
- Whole nutmeg – I used ground nutmeg
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
Plus some fresh Pecorino Romano cheese to grate over the top.
Use your choice of pasta. I obviously made fresh fettucini but many recipes use tagliatelle and hell, some call for regular old store bought dried spaghetti noodles. The sauce is the main feature here.
As referenced above the first step my crazy ass did was to grind the meat. I bought a small chuck roast that was just a shade under 1 pound and I figured after trimming some of the gristle but none of the fat, I could approach the needed 3/4 pounds called for.
Cut the meat into chunks that are small enough to go into the mouth of the meat grinder.
Then get to grinding.
The grinder does indeed get a bit messy doing this, so to assist in the clean up I grind a few chunks of bread after grinding the meat to help clear the leftover bits of flesh from the grinder.
If you were making meatballs you could use this ground bread as the filler in said meatballs. I am not making meatballs so the bloody ground bread bits didn’t make it into the sauce. You’ll want to break down the grinder attachment and clean it very thoroughly after use.
To the sauce!
Chop up the onion. Add the onion, the tablespoon of vegetable oil and the 3 tablespoons of butter into a COLD pot.
That’s right. This was one of Marcella Hazan’s ideas. The concept being that the onion began with a consistent sweat rather than tossing and browning in a hot pan thus making the onion a bit more sweet and less aggressive in the final dish. Sweat the onion down for about 7-8 minutes.
While the onion is sweating let’s cut up the celery and carrot. I’m going to show you my carrot chopping method that I’ve been doing forever.
By slicing the carrots lengthwise you give them a flat surface to lie down on while being chopped because nothing pisses me off more in the kitchen than having little carrot wheels rolling around all over the fucking place while I’m cutting them. Get those carrots a nice small dice since they take the longest of everything in the sauce to cook.
Dump the carrot and celery onto the sweated onions.
Let cook for a couple of minutes.
Next add in the ground meat. Look how rich and red the freshly ground meat looks.
At this time add in a large pinch of salt and some grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Cook down until the red has cooked out of the meat.
Next in goes the cup of milk.
The linked recipe says to cook until the milk cooks out completely.
It eventually DOES cook out but it ain’t happening quickly. It does that shit on it’s own schedule. I didn’t time this part but I’m guessing just the cooking the milk out part took 35-40 minutes. We’re following instructions here remember?
It does eventually cook out I promise.
At this point add the nutmeg. If I had fresh I would have loved to grate some over the top but I went with the ground nutmeg instead.
Next add in the cup of white wine. I used a pinot grigio for this.
Guess what we’re gonna do here. C’mon guess.
We’re gonna cook the white wine out until it evaporates.
I shit you not. And guess how long that takes. About the same fucking time as the milk did.
Remember these steps folks because it factors into the overall cooking time drastically.
The wine does eventually cook out.
Next? In go the tomatoes. I measured exactly a cup and a half. Remember this isn’t tomato forward, it just has some tomatoes in it.
How long does this step take?
At least 3 hours on a very low simmer. It’s also important to simmer the sauce uncovered the entire time.
While the sauce is doing it’s slow dance you can make your fresh pasta or you can set your tired ass down and rest since you’ve been standing in the kitchen for over 2 motherfucking hours.
I made pasta.
I have given the instructions for homemade pasta so many times now that I’ve lost track.
Here. Here’s a link to a couple of weeks ago when we made the blackened chicken alfredo. It’s got the whole process there.
I had enough wherewithal to take only 2 photos of the pasta making.
And the drying.
Like I said, this meal is not a very difficult one as far as complexity but it did kick my ass with the time needed and I sure as fuck didn’t help by adding in my pasta making/meat grinding like a stupid shit. It was worth it though. Oh man.
Finally our sauce is about ready. I cooked that last step for almost 4 hours instead of the suggested 3 to make sure the carrots got tender. Adjust with salt if needed.
Let’s take a look.
That’s what I’m talking about.
Now cook them noodles that your dumb ass just had to make from scratch.
Once again, fresh pasta only needs to boil for 3-4 minutes.
At long fucking last.
Take those noodles and place them in a saucepan. Ladle some of the bolognese over the top and stir to make sure all of the noodles are coated with sauce. Dump the sauce and noodles onto a serving dish and give some serious gratings of the Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Get all fancy pants like me and top with some fresh chopped parsley and serve.
I was so glad to plate this up that I didn’t even add the fucking salad. Just give me a piece of bread and step the fuck back.
Holy shit wow.
Motherfucker. This is savory as hell from the slow braising in the milk and the wine. One thing you’ll notice is… no garlic?
No garlic! With only salt, pepper and nutmeg as seasonings!
What did come through in addition to the meaty, rich, unctuous, savoriness was sweetness. Sweetness that did indeed come from the slow sweating of the onions to cut down their ferocity. There is also sweetness from the carrot. The tomatoes have politely stepped to the background and simply bring a bit of acidity. This is indeed a meat sauce and not a tomato sauce. The grating of the Pecorino Romano becomes your salt and it brings that tiny bit of funkiness that was needed to elevate this dish to it’s heights.
Since I made the effort I have to add that this dish would not have been the same if I didn’t grind fresh meat and make the fresh pasta. It would be delicious but goddammit this was epic.
Would I make this again the same way with the grinding of the meat and the fresh pasta like a fucking asshole?
Yeah. I would.
Go ahead and use some ground beef and some dried pasta. You won’t be sorry in the least.
There you go Scotchy!
Big hat tip to the late Marcella Hazan for bringing awareness of Italian cuisine to the unwashed masses of North America. I for one appreciate the hell out if it.
Thanks for reading folks.
See you next time.