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David Ross

eG Cook-Off 57: Bolognese Sauce

153 posts in this topic

But you don't have to finish the pasta in the water: and even at al dente, fresh absorbs more liquid than factory.

The absorption still won't be significant enough to make a difference, all you have to do is pick up one of the last remaining pieces of pasta on your plate, cut it across and take a look at the cross-section to see how har the sauce penetrated (if you're near-sighted, like me, you won't even need a magnifying glass :wink: )

Cooking the pasta directly in the amount of bolognese sauce being used for the particular meal might care of some excessive liquidiness, but I have my doubts, and the texture of pasta cooked in sauce always seems gummy or flabby to me.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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The absorption still won't be significant enough to make a difference...

... and you've never had a nice pot of meat sauce that seemed just right, then mixed it with the pasta and found the combination dry, because there wasn't enough liquid left after the noodles got their share ?


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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I've never made bolognese sauce but been planning to in the near future. I've been doing my research on eG and there was a great thread about this in the Regional Cuisine - Italy section of eGullet, one post I think worth noting, based on its supposed origin, is by eG member "GordonCooks":

Lifted form Molto's trip to Bologna' date=' Italy. I think it's the official recipe as listed on the town hall(or pretty darn close)

Bolognese Sauce (Ragu Bolognese):

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 medium onions, finely chopped

4 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 carrot, scraped and finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1 pound ground veal

1 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground beef

1/4 pound pancetta, minced

1/2 cup milk

1 (16-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, with the juices

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups brodo, recipe follows

Salt and pepper

In a 6 to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and sweat over medium heat until vegetables are translucent. Add veal, pork, beef, and pancetta to the vegetables, brown over high heat, stirring to keep meat from sticking together for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until almost dry, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer 15 minutes. Add the wine and brodo, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until flavors are developed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat.

Yield: 6 1/2 cups, about 10 to 12 servings

Brodo:

1 pound beef scraps

1 pound beef or veal bones

1 pound beef tongue, cut into 4 or 5 pieces

1 (4 to 5 pound) stewing hen, cut into 6 pieces

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, coarsely chopped

1 celery rib, coarsely chopped

10 to 12 quarts cold water

Salt and pepper

Place the beef, bones, tongue, chicken pieces, onion, carrot, and celery in a large soup pot, cover with the water and bring almost to a boil, very slowly. Reduce the heat to simmer before the mixture boils, and allow to cook for 4 hours, skimming off the foam and any excess fat that rises to the surface. After 4 hours, remove from heat, strain the liquid twice, first through a conical sieve and second through cheesecloth, and allow to cool. Refrigerate stock in small containers for up to a week or freeze for up to a month.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes [/quote']

(from: )


Edited by Dan C. (log)

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My process for Ragù Bolognese hasn't changed much from the one I posted back in 2003:

Cream is too rich for this dish, IMO. I soften a fine dice of onion, carrots and celery (at 2:1:1) in copious amounts of evoo and butter (at 1:1), then throw in home ground beef, veal, pork and pancetta (at 3:3:3:1). Once the meats have lost their red color, in goes white wine to barely cover. After that cooks out, in goes plenty of milk, several Parmigiano rinds from the freezer and maybe a tablespoon of tomato paste. This simmers for several hours (often in the Crock Pot). Towards the end, I'll add a tiny grating of nutmeg and correct the seasonings. It's done when the fat starts to separate from the meat. I might swirl in a little butter just before serving.

To my mind, the three critical things are 1. grinding your own meat; 2. using milk as the primary liquid; and 3. going easy on the tomato.

I have found the Crock Pot to be the ideal cooking vessel for ragù: you can turn it on, walk away for 3-4 hours and come back to finish it up.

Lately, I've more often made a "white ragù" (i.e., no tomato product at all) using home-ground lamb shank meat, and including fennel in the vegetable base. I take the fennel fronds and run them through the VitaPrep with some Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil and a touch of garlic to make a kind of "fennel frond pesto" which I then swirl through the pasta as I'm dishing it up. No complaints.

Ragù freezes really well in vacuum bags.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Hm... seems my idea of a Bolognese sauce was a little off - I thought of it as a tomato sauce with meat and mirepoix and milk. Seems like the "traditional" recipes use far less tomato than I have when I've made it. I'd like to try this.

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The absorption still won't be significant enough to make a difference...

... and you've never had a nice pot of meat sauce that seemed just right, then mixed it with the pasta and found the combination dry, because there wasn't enough liquid left after the noodles got their share ?

Nope. But that may have as much to do with how I like my pasta sauced (i.e. lightly).

I'm still curious about the wine: I can't think of any recipe other than the one in CI (mentioned upthread), and although I've used both white and red, I'd lover to hear a cogent argument for either one; I realize white is traditional, but I've had excellent results with red, too, which is arguably more often used in things that contain a high proportion of beef.

Is there any indication that earlier iterations used little or no beef?

. . . .

Would rabbit meat be considered in making this? They are called Hares in italy..curious?

paul

I'm confused: Rabbit is 'coniglio', and hare is 'lepre', and they're both used in cooking, but I'm not getting how one would be called the other..?


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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One of the neighbors where I stayed in Italy brought in a Hare ( I think they are larger ) for us to cook ( I'm not saying we made Bolognese with it ). But, I don't have access to Hare here, so rabbit would be my closest species to try in making a meat sauce . That's all I'm saying.

Cheers

I was just curious of.. rabbit would be an acceptable protein ?


Its good to have Morels

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Interesting thread. I've always wanted to research Bolognese sauce and understand its key components. Now I realize that I have never used milk in my meat-based pasta sauces. I will have to try that.

My process for Ragù Bolognese hasn't changed much from the one I posted back in 2003:

Cream is too rich for this dish, IMO. I soften a fine dice of onion, carrots and celery (at 2:1:1) in copious amounts of evoo and butter (at 1:1), then throw in home ground beef, veal, pork and pancetta (at 3:3:3:1). Once the meats have lost their red color, in goes white wine to barely cover. After that cooks out, in goes plenty of milk, several Parmigiano rinds from the freezer and maybe a tablespoon of tomato paste. This simmers for several hours (often in the Crock Pot). Towards the end, I'll add a tiny grating of nutmeg and correct the seasonings. It's done when the fat starts to separate from the meat. I might swirl in a little butter just before serving.

Sam - Is it correct that you don't add any canned tomatoes or tomato puree, just the tomato paste?

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I was just curious of.. rabbit would be an acceptable protein ?

My mother in law (now deceased), swore by the recipe she learned in Northern California from families in the large immigrant Italian population. Rabbit was one of the proteins. My memory is hazy but I seem to recall at least 5 different meats.

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Sam - Is it correct that you don't add any canned tomatoes or tomato puree, just the tomato paste?

Correct. Ragù Bolognese is not a tomato-ey sauce at all.

I was just curious of.. rabbit would be an acceptable protein?

My mother in law (now deceased), swore by the recipe she learned in Northern California from families in the large immigrant Italian population. Rabbit was one of the proteins. My memory is hazy but I seem to recall at least 5 different meats.

The problem with coniglio (rabbit -- generally cultivated) is that it is a fairly tender and lean meat, and tends to dry out with extended cooking. Lepre (hare -- generally wild) is tougher and gamier, although probably not much fattier, and might do better at this sort of thing. But I doubt it would be all that great. Imagine making a long-cooked ragù of ground chicken thighs and you get some idea. Now... I have an Italian friend whose grandmother used to save the ears from all the rabbits she cooked, and when she had enough of them she would make a long-cooked rabbit ear ragù. Lots of gelatin in ears.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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One of the neighbors where I stayed in Italy brought in a Hare ( I think they are larger ) for us to cook ( I'm not saying we made Bolognese with it ). But, I don't have access to Hare here, so rabbit would be my closest species to try in making a meat sauce . That's all I'm saying.

Cheers

I was just curious of.. rabbit would be an acceptable protein ?

Ah, got it! I haven't seen either listed in any traditional recipe, but who cares? Either one would be delicious, and sounds like a great idea (the long, slow reduction essentially braises the meat, which is ground, finely chopped, or shredded anyway, so any toughness/dryness issues would be circumvented)


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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While searching for traditional Bolognese recipes, I turned to my friend, Chef Luciano Pellegrini for some advice. Chef Pellegrini is a James Beard Award-Winner and the Chef of Valentino at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Chef Pellegrini gave me these recommendations for Bolognese-

-The main meat element should always be beef. However, game isn't out of the question. I told Chef I had some nice ground venison I got from a friend. (Harvested off a large Illinois White Tail). If I use venison, the dish becomes "Ragu di Cervo all Bolognese."

-While pancetta is traditionally put into Bolognese, in the restaurant kitchens of Valentino other cured meats are regularly used. They make a variety of salumi in-house at Valentino, so it's not unusual that they will add prosciutto or butt end cuts of mortadella to the Bolognese pot.

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I chose not to add milk or cream to my Bolognese, but Chef Pellegrini said that cream, while not strictly traditional, is a very popular addition to Bolognese, making the finished sauce "Bolognese all Panna." (With cream).

-The "tomato element." In the restaurant kitchen they use both tomato paste/puree to thicken the Bolognese and fresh, peeled tomatoes. Apparently the traditional homemade Bolognese only employs tomato paste/puree--not fresh, diced, stewed or whole tomatoes, simply puree and just enough to flavor and thicken the sauce. In the restaurant, they are making literally gallons of Bolognese which calls for them to use large quantities of both fresh tomatoes and tomato paste/puree.

-Chef Pellegrini recommends fresh, flat-style pastas with Bolognese like pappardelle or tagliatelle. I could only find dried pappardelle and tagliatelle and it worked well with the finished Bolognese. But I found a third pasta, a somewhat unknown flat-shaped dried pasta, that was for me a revelation and the perfect pasta for Bolognese. You'll see it in my upcoming Cook-Off photos.

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Oh this will be fun! I've adapted my recipe starting with the wild boar ragu I used to make at an Italian restaurant but of course changed it up enough to make it my own.

Looking through the recipes and videos it looks like a big mix of all of them. I've very busy starting today so I hope to work it in. How long does a cook-off go on for?


Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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Oh this will be fun! I've adapted my recipe starting with the wild boar ragu I used to make at an Italian restaurant but of course changed it up enough to make it my own.

Looking through the recipes and videos it looks like a big mix of all of them. I've very busy starting today so I hope to work it in. How long does a cook-off go on for?

Great! We'll look forward to your Bolognese, and don't worry about any time frame. Like a great Bolognese, Cook-Offs and our conversations evolve over time. That leads to deeper discussion and in the end, we'll learn more from each other. I made my Bolognese last weekend, and I'll probably start posting some photos soon.

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Here are a few interesting tidbits that I found on Wikipedia while trying to understand the specificity of Bolognese sauce versus Ragu in general.

Like its equivalent in Bologna, the Neapolitan type is also made from three main parts: a soffritto, meat, and tomato sauce. However, a major difference is how the meat is used as well as the amount of tomato in the sauce. Bolognese version uses very finely chopped meat, while the Neapolitan version uses whole meat, taking it from the casserole when cooked and serving it as a second course or with pasta. Also, the soffritto contains much more onion compared to the Bolognese. Preferences for ingredients also differ. In Naples, white wine is replaced by red wine, butter by lard or olive oil, and lots of basil leaves are used where Bolognese ragù has no herbs. In the Neapolitan recipe the content may well be enriched with adding raisins, pine nuts, and involtini with different fillings. Milk or cream is not used, and a relative abundance of tomato sauce in flavour, in contrast to Bolognese use of a minimal amount , is preferred. The tomato season is of course much longer in Southern Naples than in Northern Bologna. Like the Bolognese, Neapolitan ragù also has quite a wide range of variants, the most well-known of which is ragù guardaporta (doorman's ragù).

It is interesting to note that Bolognese sauce (or, more often, a kind of tomato-and-ground-beef sauce named this way) is used with tagliatelle, which is a fresh egg pasta, in Italy, but outside of Italy for spaghetti, a dry southern pasta. In Italy the kind of ragù used with pasta types like spaghetti, bucatini, and ziti is always the Neapolitan one.

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David - I think you are a fan of the Time Life Foods of the World series. I pulled out Italy and found this ingredient list for Ragu Bolognese (Northern Italian meat sauce):

1/2 lb. smoked ham

chopped - 1 c. onion, 1/4 c. carrot, 1/2 c. celery

4T butter,

2 T olive oil

3/4 lb beef round ground twice

1/4 lb. lean pork ground twice

1/2 c. white wine

2 c. beef stock

2 T tomato paste

1/2 lb chicken livers

1 c. heavy cream

pinch nutmeg + salt & pepper

The sauce is simmered for 45 minutes after the vegetables and meat are browned. Livers are sauteed in some of the butter and chopped - added 10 minutes before done along with the cream.

I had this in the back of my mind from eons ago as the liver addition intrigued. I am anxious to see the variations everyone present. I have no history with the sauce other than what I think of as the standard American ground beef, onion, garlic, tomato paste and puree, with oregano and basil as the herbs. I did often use ground pork and/or added sausage meat.

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Australian Gourmet Traveller ran an article entitled "Battle of the Bol" in which they discussed the sauce and collected recipes from 60 of Australia's top chefs. Link here. Hope it works from your location.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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David - I think you are a fan of the Time Life Foods of the World series. I pulled out Italy and found this ingredient list for Ragu Bolognese (Northern Italian meat sauce):

1/2 lb. smoked ham

chopped - 1 c. onion, 1/4 c. carrot, 1/2 c. celery

4T butter,

2 T olive oil

3/4 lb beef round ground twice

1/4 lb. lean pork ground twice

1/2 c. white wine

2 c. beef stock

2 T tomato paste

1/2 lb chicken livers

1 c. heavy cream

pinch nutmeg + salt & pepper

The sauce is simmered for 45 minutes after the vegetables and meat are browned. Livers are sauteed in some of the butter and chopped - added 10 minutes before done along with the cream.

I had this in the back of my mind from eons ago as the liver addition intrigued. I am anxious to see the variations everyone present. I have no history with the sauce other than what I think of as the standard American ground beef, onion, garlic, tomato paste and puree, with oregano and basil as the herbs. I did often use ground pork and/or added sausage meat.

You know me very well. That's exactly the cookbook I settled on for my Bolognese recipe. I did make a few changes however. I used pancetta instead of "smoked ham." I added some fresh garlic once the Bolognese meat and soffritto were combined and I added some dried basil and oregano. I kept the cream out and bumped up the wine by about 1/3 cup. I used white wine, but next time I'll try red for a more full-bodied Bolognese.

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Ok, after much discussion with my husband, I'm going to use the following meats:

Ground venison (we shot last winter--we just ground some more up out of venison roasts that we weren't eating and we were out of venison burger. I bought some 75% beef burger to grind up with it.)

Store bought pork sausage

Ground teal and mallard duck that my husband shot over the weekend and is breasted out, ready to do something with in my fridge.

Tomorrow or Friday I will grind up the duck and take pics.

OH and edited to add, I have 1/2 lb. of bacon that I will use, also.

Edited again to say that we think the duck addition might be interesting.....kind of similar to the liver.


Edited by Shelby (log)

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Ok, after much discussion with my husband, I'm going to use the following meats:

Ground venison (we shot last winter--we just ground some more up out of venison roasts that we weren't eating and we were out of venison burger. I bought some 75% beef burger to grind up with it.)

Store bought pork sausage

Ground teal and mallard duck that my husband shot over the weekend and is breasted out, ready to do something with in my fridge.

Tomorrow or Friday I will grind up the duck and take pics.

OH and edited to add, I have 1/2 lb. of bacon that I will use, also.

Edited again to say that we think the duck addition might be interesting.....kind of similar to the liver.

Sounds delicious. I loved the taste of wild Mallard when I was in my duck hunting days. I think it will add some dark, richness. If you've got enough other fat in the meat mixture, the Mallard should be fine without being dry.

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Shelby - Had to look up what "Teal" was!

Looking forward to your game version of this classic!


Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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... Nope. But that may have as much to do with how I like my pasta sauced (i.e. lightly).

Well, I can't agree with you more that pasta shouldn't be over-sauced, or cooked gummy, or the sauce so watery that no pasta or method will redeem it. It does seem to me that lightly-sauced pasta is more likely to end up dry than heavily-sauced, though.

For me, the sauce consistency - and matching it with the pasta and the way of combining them - is very important. I've been served meat sauce pasta that's quite dry and that affects my enjoyment of it - of course it may be perfect to someone else's taste. At the other end of the scale, whilst I enjoy a bowl of ramen when I'm hungry, that noodles-in-lots-of-thin-soup isn't a natural for me at all. Give me a sauce with some body, and enough liquid to keep the dish moist.

Dunno if there's Bolognese in my near future. but I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's results.


Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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      In addition to not always being recognized for it's looks, every August and September it becomes the butt of jokes at State Fair competitions across the country. If you can get past the embarassment of seeing the poor devils dressed up and carved into silly, cartoon-like farm figures or pumped-up with organic steroids, you'll find a delicious, low-calorie vegetable packed with potassium and vitamin A. Yes friends, your dreams have come true for today we kick-off eG Cook-Off #62, "Summer Squash."
      (Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).

      According to the University of Illinois Extension Office, summer squash, (also known in some circles as Italian marrow), are tender, warm-season vegetables that can be grown anytime during the warm, frost-free season. Summer squash differs from fall and winter squash, (like pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash), because it is harvested before the outer rind hardens. Some of the most popular summer squash are the Green and Yellow Zucchini, Scallop, Patty Pan, Globe, Butter Blossom and Yellow Crookneck.

      My personal favorite summer squash is the versatile zucchini. Slow-cooked with sliced onion and ham hock, zucchini is perfectly comfortable nestled on a plate next to juicy, fried pork chops and creamy macaroni and cheese. But the chi-chi haute crowd isn't forgotten when it comes to zucchini, or, as the sniffy French call it, the "courgette." Tiny, spring courgette blossoms stuffed with herbs and ricotta cheese then dipped in tempura batter and gently fried are a delicacy found on Michelin-Star menus across the globe.

      Won't you please join me in crafting some delicious masterpieces that showcase the culinary possibilities of delicious summer squash.
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