I am so excited to bring you my spaghetti Bolognese this week. I just finished the last class at Silver Dollar City, so it’s time for my readers to enjoy this yummy sauce.
As I started to write this morning I thought to myself: ‘Spaghetti sauces, most people fry beef or sausage and add a jar of commercial sauce and call it spaghetti.’ If you enjoy good Italian ragu you will realize there’s a great deal more to quality sauces. So let’s hit upon a few tips to make exceptional spaghetti or spaghetti Bolognese.
The meat choice is personal, the beef blend I use in the recipe is called Boston Burger in the Branson area. It’s a blend of about 1/3 lean pork and 2/3 quality lean beef. The sausage implemented is your choice. I represent Petit Jean Meat, from Morrilton, Arkansas, so of course, I use their fresh sausage.
Traditionally there are two things missing from my recipe. The first is a wine reduction. Oh yes, put it in! I would use about a 1/2 cup of dry white or red before adding the stock. The second item is a bit of cream. I omitted it from this recipe because I ‘can’ the sauce. Again, start with about 1/3 cup and see what you think. Heavy cream would be the first choice.
Believe it or not there is a great deal of controversy about what country lays claim to ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’. Everyone thinks it’s Italian, but there’s chatter about Germany and Russia claiming it as their dish.
Carrot, celery and onion in Italian cooking are referred to as the soffrito. Like the ‘trinity’ from Cajun and Creole cooking, a soffrito is the Italian ‘trinity’. When you chop these vegetables they must be super fine. You shouldn’t look at the dish and see big pops of vegetables. The ratio is typically a cup of onion and only 1/3 of a cup of the celery and carrot. Remember to cook over low heat to keep the vegetables sweet.
As I have mentioned before another great addition to Ragu is to add an ox tail bone to the sauce, then simmer it for several hours. A close substitute is pork steak bones. Next time you grill pork steaks remove all the meat and save the bones in the freezer, for your next red sauce. You will not believe the flavor that develops from this addition. The first time you try this I suggest pulling a bit of red sauce out; before adding the bones, so you can do a taste comparison. The flavor change is remarkable, smooth and the acidity seems to melt away. All due to the marrow coming from the bones.
On the stock, don’t be afraid to use beef stock or chicken stock. I like to use beef, but the chicken will work just as well too.
Sit down on a rainy or snowy day and make a double or triple recipe. Put it in the freezer and you’ve got a shopping day and a fabulous evening dinner! You can even use this yummy recipe inside your lasagna.
Life is good, reach out to someone in need this week. Your life will be so much richer. Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
1 lb. Boston Burger or regular hamburger
1/2 lb. pork or Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped fine
1/3 cup fine celery
1/3 cup fine carrot
3-4 large garlic
1 (24 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup beef stock
1 teaspoon dry basil
1/2 teaspoon dry garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
12-16 ounces tomato paste
Begin cooking both meats in a large skillet. About mid-way add the soffrito (onion, carrot & celery). Cook over medium low heat until meat and vegetables are tender. Drain any excess drippings from the pan. Add crushed tomatoes, beef stock, basil, garlic powder and black pepper. Blend all ingredients together. Add 1/2 to 3/4 of the tomato paste to thicken. Stir in and monitor for desired thickness. If a more dense sauce is desired add the rest of the remaining tomato paste. Bring sauce to a light boil and then allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes with a lid cover.
For a true Italian flavor simmer with a pork bone or two, for at least a couple of hours. Remember good ragu needs to simmer for a while to enhance the flavor outcome.
Serve over pasta or use in lasagna. Serves 4-5 persons.
The cooking of vegetables over low heat without a carmelization is referred to as a mirepoix (mee PWAH). Italians also refer to the slow cooked vegetables as the soffrito. The purpose of the vegetable sauté is to sweeten the flavor.
A wine reduction has been omitted from this recipe. I would definitely put it back in with about 1/2 cup dry red or white wine added after all the vegetables are tender, before the stock. Also; because I ‘can’ this sauce I omit the addition of some cream. Feel free to add a little cream to the sauce, if you desire. I would suggest starting with about 1/3 cup. Enjoy!