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David Ross

eG Cook-Off 57: Bolognese Sauce

153 posts in this topic

... 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.

I think those are good points, i.e., the thickness of Bolognese as it relates to the pasta. The characteristics of Bolognese are a thick, chunky, deep-flavored sauce--much headier than a basic tomato sauce. In my mind that calls for a sturdy pasta, not sturdy as in raw or too al dente but sturdy as in the thickness of the flat pasta. You want a bold noodle to hold up to a bold sauce and you want a balance between the two so in every bite you taste both pasta and sauce.

Another element we should talk about is the cheese. Most of the Bolognese recipes I saw didn't call for any cheese to garnish the finished dish. I added only a small shower of finely grated parmesan on top of my Bolognese and pasta. Again, the bold flavors of the Bolognese should shine through, not a glump of sauce, too many noodles and a clod of cheese.

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For those that intended to use paste, Will you use the Pincage ( Toasting the paste ) method that was discussed a few threads ago, about frying tomato paste?

Paul

I think I'm going to make 2-3 different ragu sauces, adjusting the contents in each to compare. Probably adjusting proteins and stocks.


Its good to have Morels

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For those that intended to use paste, Will you use the Pincage ( Toasting the paste ) method that was discussed a few threads ago, about frying tomato paste?

Paul

I think I'm going to make 2-3 different ragu sauces, adjusting the contents in each to compare. Probably adjusting proteins and stocks.

Since the tomato paste is added along the way, instead of being there from the start, it would require doing separately and I'm not sure that the relative quantity involved would make this worth it.


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

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For those that intended to use paste, Will you use the Pincage ( Toasting the paste ) method that was discussed a few threads ago, about frying tomato paste?

I don't bother for two reasons: (1) I don't use enough of it to make much difference either way; and (2) the sauce cooks long enough to transform the paste anyway.

The latter effect is even true of tomato-based sauces. At some point as I was learning my best friend Joe Graziano's mother's traditional long-cooked Italian-American "Sunday gravy" style sauce, I realized that a big part of getting the right flavor was to simmer the sauce long enough that it transformed from red to brick-red (i.e., some species of red-brown) due to Maillardization.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I suspect you'll have trouble watching it in America because of the licensing, but Jamie Oliver is doing a series at the moment about food cultures that have entered Britain, and this weeks involved italian. He made a bolognaise in the way that he thought an Italian would, that is to say, using whatever is available, and not much of it (because they probably couldn't afford a great deal). In this case, he cooked a whole rabbit in a pot with two cans of tomatoes, a whole onion, 2 whole carrots and a few other bits and bobs, then some stock or water. Cook that overnight at 110C (250F?), or use a crockpot, as you've been discussing, then in the morning, shredding all the meat off the rabbit carcasse, squeezing out the now soft onion flesh, mashing the carrots and finishing off with parmesan. I think combining this philosophy with the traditional ingredients and techniques (milk, wine).

If you wanted to take it a step further then i'd definitely watch the Heston Blumenthal episode on it, theres some great ideas on building layers of flavour in that.

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CalumC,

I just look @ jamie's recipe you mentioned !!This looks like something to try. I'm in on this one.

Except I'm going to change out the beer thing!!

Paul


Edited by Paul Bacino (log)

Its good to have Morels

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

Looking forward to your game version of this classic!

Oops, sorry. I should have been more descriptive. I forget that you all don't live in my brain :laugh: .

Teal is my favorite kind of duck. It's very mild and tender.

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I suspect you'll have trouble watching it in America because of the licensing, but Jamie Oliver is doing a series at the moment about food cultures that have entered Britain, and this weeks involved italian. He made a bolognaise in the way that he thought an Italian would, that is to say, using whatever is available, and not much of it (because they probably couldn't afford a great deal). In this case, he cooked a whole rabbit in a pot with two cans of tomatoes, a whole onion, 2 whole carrots and a few other bits and bobs, then some stock or water. Cook that overnight at 110C (250F?), or use a crockpot, as you've been discussing, then in the morning, shredding all the meat off the rabbit carcasse, squeezing out the now soft onion flesh, mashing the carrots and finishing off with parmesan. I think combining this philosophy with the traditional ingredients and techniques (milk, wine).

If you wanted to take it a step further then i'd definitely watch the Heston Blumenthal episode on it, theres some great ideas on building layers of flavour in that.

It sounds good, and very likely something that might be done, but might not be called a bolognese sauce in Italy; at the very least, one person calling it that would kick off an involved and extended discussion of what defines a bolognese sauce, and what puts it beyond the margins of the name (I've heard plenty of such discussions, the most recent having revolved around how the addition of onion to, I think, carbonara, made it something else, and could not be called 'carbonara'... no maybe, or alternative, just 'not'!).


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

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I love Heston Blumenthal's bolognese episode of 'In search of perfection'. For those interested it can be viewed on Youtube in 3 parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Having watched all three parts, I have to say that this doesn't particularly seem very much like Ragu Bolognese to me. Rather it seems like some highly evolved version of "spag bol," the English bowdlerization of tagliatelle al ragù Bolognese (and for what it's worth, he's quite clear that he's riffing on the English dish, not the Italian one).

It's a meat sauce. And its served with pasta. And it has some similarities with Bolognese, but I can't imagine it tastes all that much like the real thing (this seems to be borne out by the taster who can detect the flavor of star anise). It's unclear to me what is to be gained from his methods if one would like to make an actual ragù Bolognese. Cut the star anise and all the herbs, to begin with. Cut the sherry vinegar and fish sauce and ketchup. And then what one is left with is a fairly traditional Bolognese, made with chopped pork and ground oxtail, that uses a kind of tomato compote rather than tomato paste or canned tomato product (although to my eye the amount that he uses would make the end product too tomato-ey, but then again maybe that's how it is in

England).

... [Jamie Oliver] cooked a whole rabbit in a pot with two cans of tomatoes, a whole onion, 2 whole carrots and a few other bits and bobs, then some stock or water. Cook that overnight at 110C (250F?), or use a crockpot, as you've been discussing, then in the morning, shredding all the meat off the rabbit carcasse, squeezing out the now soft onion flesh, mashing the carrots and finishing off with parmesan. I think combining this philosophy with the traditional ingredients and techniques (milk, wine).

It sounds good, and very likely something that might be done, but might not be called a bolognese sauce in Italy . . .

Michaela is spot-on, I think. There are many different kinds of ragu. But not many different kinds of ragu Bolognese. It's a bit like saying, "Jamie Oliver made this really interesting chicken fried steak using catfish."


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Not sure how "Bolognese" this is, but here's my recipe:

Ingredients

(makes enough to serve 4-8)

1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (or 6-8 fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced)

1 6 oz can of tomato paste

1 tsp Italian seasoning blend

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbs sugar

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 medium onion, fine diced

1 large carrot, peeled and fine diced

1 large celery rib, fine diced

1/4 cup sweet marsala wine

1 tbs olive oil

1/2 lb lean ground beef

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add in the seasoning blend and garlic and sauté another minute or so. Stir in the marsala to deglaze the pan, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper and sugar, stiring well to combine. Bring back to a simmer and stir in the ground beef, breaking it into small pieces. Simmer on low for another 30-40 minutes.

Can be served immediately but it's always better the next day.

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Not sure how "Bolognese" this is, but here's my recipe:

Sounds nice. But that's not in the Bolognese ballpark. What you have there is a tomato sauce with a bit of ground meat in it. Ragu Bolognese is a meat sauce with a touch of tomato in it (or none at all).


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I've never done a cook-off here before, but yesterday it was cold and snowy and I needed something long cooked and rich. So I made some Bolognese sauce and used it in a baked dish I found in Marcella Hazan's _Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking_.

Here are the ingredients for the sauce:

bol ingredients.jpg

I used half the onion, and chopped it as finely as I could along with the stalk of celery and the carrot. I sweated the onion, then added the celery and carrot and cooked them together. Then I added the beef, 1 full pound of it (maybe a bit too much, but I wanted the dish to be ribsticking), and broke it up finely with a fork. Then I added a cup of milk and some nutmeg and cooked it down, then a cup of red wine and cooked that down, then I added a cup of crushed tomatoes. I then let it cook for about 3 1/4 hours and make sure the seasoning is right. This is essentially Hazan's procedure with a little more beef than she uses and a little less tomato. I like to use white wine, because its got more acidity to contrast to the richness of the beef and milk, but I had some leftover red so that's what went in. The acidity of the tomatoes was enough anyway. Here's the result:

bol.jpg

You can see that there's quite a bit of fat in this sauce. That's what clings to the pasta, and I think the fat is essential to the sauce. You can see too that it is purely a meat sauce: if you didn't know there were tomatoes in it, you might not be able to tell. The tomatoes and wine are there to balance the milk and the beef. It's an intensely beefy, very rich tasting sauce: meager ingredients elevated to the point of luxury.

I used the sauce, along with two cups of loose besciamella, grated Grana Padano, and a pound of rigatoni. In Hazan's recipe, she mixes the Bolognese and the besciamella, but I like to keep them separate somewhat. They blend together during baking, but not too much so there are pockets of pasta dressed with one sauce or the other, or both together.

bol in pan.jpg

After baking for about 15 minutes at 400F, here was the result:

bol al forno.jpg

It is not at all diet food, but it is rich, hot, and delicious for a cold night.


nunc est bibendum...

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I'm picking up an order of ground goat meat from the co-op tomorrow afternoon. Would goat be acceptable in Bolognese? If not, what should I use the goat for? Ordered it on a whim -- the only goat I've ever eaten was barbecued whole goat. I have some grass-fed ground beef I could put with it, and some good country slab bacon OR country sausage, or both.


Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Not sure how "Bolognese" this is, but here's my recipe:

Ingredients

(makes enough to serve 4-8)

1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (or 6-8 fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced)

1 6 oz can of tomato paste

1 tsp Italian seasoning blend

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbs sugar

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 medium onion, fine diced

1 large carrot, peeled and fine diced

1 large celery rib, fine diced

1/4 cup sweet marsala wine

1 tbs olive oil

1/2 lb lean ground beef

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add in the seasoning blend and garlic and sauté another minute or so. Stir in the marsala to deglaze the pan, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper and sugar, stiring well to combine. Bring back to a simmer and stir in the ground beef, breaking it into small pieces. Simmer on low for another 30-40 minutes.

Can be served immediately but it's always better the next day.

Not really a traditional Bolognese, but I'm curious about the Marsala. Sounds too sweet to me for a beef sauce. Do you like the flavor of the Marsala as opposed to a dry white or red wine?

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I'm a southern italian and in the south I don't think that most of Italians are aware that there is milk in the classic ragu' alla bolognese.

I've adopted recipe from the "Simili" sisters (watch for sorelle simili on youtube to see them in action) sfogline and bolognesi.

First of all I use a very large saute' pan for starting the sauce, in order to sweat all the ingredients properly.

I prep a good quantity of onions, carrots and celery. For about 800 g of meat I use 2 medium onions, some amount of carrots and half of the celery (although they use for 500 g meat only two tablespons of each vegetable).

I start sweating the onion with evoo and a knot of butter, as soon as it soften, I add the celery, and after a couple minutes the carrots. I like to add a little bit of minced pancetta. Here, it really makes a difference to use some chicken liver in the ragu', it gets very creamy. Clean a couple livers from tough parts and chop with a chef knife. Since the liver has the tendency to tie up to other ingredients, push the vegetables on the side and add the liver in the center of the pan. As soon as it changes color, make sure to break it with the wooden spoon, mix with the other ingredients.

Again I push the vegetables on the sides and start browning the meat in the center. I keep my heat on high, make sure I have enough fat to brown the meat. I like a mix of pork and ground beef. If the pan is large enough the meat will not release its own juice. As soon as I see it starts browning I break with the spoon any lumps and mix it with the other ingredients. I usually start with half of the meat, brown or better starts to brown, mix with the vegetagles, put at at sides and keep going with the rest of it.

At this poing I add a little bit of tomato paste, like a couple tablespoons and brown. Then I deglaze with red wine (warm), making sure to scrape all the "sucs" from the bottom of the pan. Yes, I like red wine. I would add something like 400 ml of hot whole milk, a little at a time, more or less dipends if I feel I need more. When it looks nice and creamy, I pour the sauce in a taller pot, I add a can of peeled tomatoes (whick I usually crush by hand), if I feel I need the sauce to be a little more runny I add some hot water. I add some coarse salt and a bay leaf. I bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.

I made it also less red, just with concentrato,.

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As heidih mentioned, I drew my recipe from the classic Time-Life "Foods of the World" series. Authored by Mr. Waverly Root, (who "first encountered Italian Cooking in Rome in 1929"), "The Cooking of Italy" was released in 1968. The "consultant" on the book was Luigi Carnacina, the "Dean of Italian Gastronomy," at the time.

107.JPG

110.JPG

111.JPG

This is the recipe for Ragu Bolognese, "North Italian Meat Sauce" from the book, with my changes noted in italics.

1/4 pound smoked ham, coarsely chopped, (I used pancetta cut into small dice of about 1/8")

1 cup coarsely chopped onion, (I diced the onion about 1/4", as I wanted a fine texture/mouthfeel in the finished sauce)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped carrot, (I diced the carrot about 1/4" and used about 1 cup)

1/2 cup chopped celery, (Again, I diced the celery about 1/4" and used 1 cup)

4 tbsp. butter (2 Tbsp. for the vegetables and 2 Tbsp. for the chicken livers)

(I added about 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3/4lb. round steak, ground twice, (I used about 12oz. ground beef chuck)

1/4lb. lean pork, ground twice, (I used about 1/4lb. ground pork)

1/2 cup white wine

2 cups beef stock (I used about 1 1/2 cups)

2 tbsp. tomato paste (I used about 3 tbsp.)

1/2 pound chicken livers (I used 3 livers, sauteed in butter then chopped fine and added to the meat mixture)

1 cup heavy cream (omitted the cream)

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

(I added about 2 tsp. each of dried basil and oregano)

(I stirred in about 2 tbsp. of Wondra flour to thicken the sauce)

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Waverley Root! I've just been reading all about him in A.J. Liebling's "Between Meals."

Not to thread hijack, I've been following this avidly. We make a bolognese that pretty much starts from Marcella Hazan and doesn't go MUCH further... we've experimented with cream and gone back to milk, we've experimented with 4-hour cooking times and gone back to 2 hours. And we've alternated between adding pancetta, ground pork and ground veal.

Very interested in trying some of the ideas from this thread - especially the umami ones - while staying as close as possible to the Hazan ideal which has delivered us so much eating pleasure.

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1 cup heavy cream (omitted the cream)

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

(I added about 2 tsp. each of dried basil and oregano)

(I stirred in about 2 tbsp. of Wondra flour to thicken the sauce)

I was OK with this, sort of, until I read that you omitted cream (dairy), added basil and oregano, and added Wondra. We're not in Bologna land anymore.

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Has anyone tried the "official" Accademia Italiana della Cucina codified version of bolognese?

Ingredients

300 gr. beef cartella (thin skirt)

150 gr. pancetta, dried

50 gr. carrot

50 gr. celery stalk

50 gr. onion

5 spoons tomato sauce or 20 gr. triple tomato extract

1 cup whole milk

Half cup white or red wine, dry and not frizzante

Salt and pepper, to taste.

Procedure

The pancetta, cut into little cubes and chopped with a mezzaluna chopping knife, is melted in a saucepan; the vegetables, once again well chopped with the mezzaluna, are then added and everything is left to stew softly. Next the ground beef is added and is left on the stovetop, while being stirred constantly, until it sputters. The wine and the tomato cut with a little broth are added and everything left to simmer for around two hours, adding little by little the milk and adjusting the salt and black pepper. Optional but advisable is the addition of the panna di cottura of a litre of whole milk at the end of the cooking.


PS: I am a guy.

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1 cup heavy cream (omitted the cream)

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

(I added about 2 tsp. each of dried basil and oregano)

(I stirred in about 2 tbsp. of Wondra flour to thicken the sauce)

I was OK with this, sort of, until I read that you omitted cream (dairy), added basil and oregano, and added Wondra. We're not in Bologna land anymore.

I cooked the Bolognese over a low heat for about 4 hours so maybe if I gave it two more hours it would have thickened without the Wondra. However, the Wondra didn't add any pasty, flour taste and did help the thickening process. Without the basil and oregano it would have been pretty bland for my taste. So I recognize based on the classic that you found I stretched the boundaries, but the finished sauce was delicious. I'll try it with cream and see what I think is the taste difference in the version I prepared.

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So ..I pulled out my Waverley Root " The Food of Italy " Just to see what he had to say in this edition : he initially states " Bolognese ragu, an unctuous blend of onions, carrots, finely chopped pork and veal, butter and tomato. " but later states. " Often ragu is richer than the basic recipe given above ".

Just thought I would add this to the party!!

I'm out looking for my stuff today!!


Its good to have Morels

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I'm a little late to the party, but I love Bolognese, especially in Lasagna. My version is in two parts, and is a heavily modified version of an old Saveur recipe. It's not 100% authentic, but I like it a lot - it's just going to take a couple of days.

Day 1: Braising short ribs

3 lbs. beef short ribs, cut English style

1 lb. beef shank, cut into about 1" slices

1 small onion, large dice

1 carrot, large dice

1 rib celery, large dice

2 bay leaves

1 750 ml bottle of inexpensive red wine (I typically use Montepulciano d'Abruzzo)

Salt and pepper

Salt and pepper meat. In a large Dutch oven, brown each piece on all sides over medium heat - it may take a bit of oil to get started, and will take multiple batches. Once the meat is brown, check to see if there's enough oil in the pan. If not, add a bit. Brown the vegetables, add the meat (and collected juices) back, add bay leaves and wine. Cover the Dutch oven and simmer slowly for two to three hours, until the meat shreds like brisket - you're looking for collagen conversion here. Once this has happened, strain the solids from the liquids. Reserve the liquid into a pitcher, cover it with plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge when cool. Discard the vegetables and bay leaves. Shred the meat while still warm into medium-sized pieces (you want some texture here... don't worry about getting it too fine). Reserve the meat, cover and put in the fridge.

Day 2: Bolognese

Reserved braising liquid, hopefully with a nice cap of fat on top

Reserved shredded braised meat

2 x 28 oz cans whole, peeled tomatoes

1/2 c. fat (this should be a mixture of reserved braising fat and pork fat rendered from fatty pork pieces)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ribs celery, fine dice

1 medium onion, fine dice

2 carrots, fine dice

1 fennel bulb, fine dice

1 1/2 lb. ground chuck

1 lb ground pork shoulder - it would be best if your butcher ground these for you on a coarse plate

8 oz. pancetta, finely chopped

1 c. red wine, reserved from the braise

4 Tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup whole milk

Salt and pepper

Pull the fat off the top of the braising liquid. Melt this, and add enough pork fat to reach 1/2 cup. Reduce braising liquid to 1 cup over medium low heat and reserve. Puree tomatoes and their juice and reserve.

In a large Dutch oven (like the one from yesterday), melt reserved fat and butter, until the foam from the butter subsides. Add all the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and turn the heat down to medium low. Slowly cook the vegetables, stirring often, until they're soft and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and fully caramelize the vegetables, which should take another 20 minutes. This step cannot be rushed - it's going to take 35-40 minutes of attention to make sure the vegetables have evenly and thoroughly browned. Add the tomato paste, and cook until the paste turns brick red, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Add the chuck and pork shoulder to the pan and return the heat to medium. Stir the meat, breaking it up, until it browns, about 10 minutes. Add the pancetta, and cook until the pancetta renders most of its fat, about 5 mninutes. Add the reserved braising liquid and reserved braised meat to the pan, and cook until the braising liquid has almost evaporated (this is what makes the ragu thick without the addition of flour). Add the milk, and stir until it is absorbed.

Add the pureed tomatoes, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered for about 2-3 hours, until the ragu is very thick. The telltale sign the ragu is ready is that the color is muted, and bubbles that pop at the surface of the ragu leave a mark for a few seconds. There should be no obvious liquid left - the ragu should be a cohesive mass.

From here, I usually make Lasagna with homemade pasta and a bechamel. Oh, and as for a wine pairing? Dolcetto. The best bottle of Dolcetto you can find. I've got a couple of bottles of 09 Marcarini Dolcetto waiting for when it's cold enough to do this, but I'd imagine that if you have some 06 Marcarini "Boschi di Berri" lying around, you should by all means feel free to open one up for this.

Thanks,

Zachary

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So ..I pulled out my Waverley Root " The Food of Italy " Just to see what he had to say in this edition : he initially states " Bolognese ragu, an unctuous blend of onions, carrots, finely chopped pork and veal, butter and tomato. " but later states. " Often ragu is richer than the basic recipe given above ".

Just thought I would add this to the party!!

I'm out looking for my stuff today!!

And one could interpret Mr. Root's comments to mean that "richer ragu" employs the use of milk or cream. No?

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Yeah Dave,

Milk/Cream/Parmesan Cheese/Stock or what ever might be close at hand !!

Cheers Paul

btw, Its a good book if you don't have it.


Edited by Paul Bacino (log)

Its good to have Morels

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(I added about 2 tsp. each of dried basil and oregano)
Without the basil and oregano it would have been pretty bland for my taste.

I don't mean to single out David, of course. He is by no means alone in these feelings and practices. It's just convenient to quote his remarks because they are emblematic of something I find fairly typical among those who are used to eating Italian-American food, and who perhaps as a result have certain notions about what "Italian pasta sauce" is supposed to taste like -- which is to say: tomato-based and highly spiced for the most part (unless it completely breaks away into something like carbonara or pesto). A preference for dry herb flavor has especially become a common expectation because using lots of dried herbs has become a way for restaurants and manufacturers of jarred sauces to obscure the lower quality of their base products. And, of course, when one becomes habituated to a certain flavor profile in a certain dish, any retreat from that can seem bland (for example, Calabrians, who have an especially spicy cuisine, are known to bring little containers of dried pepper with them because non-spicy food seems bland). The result has been that many people have come to expect and desire certain flavors in an "Italian pasta sauce" that are not really the point of ragu Bolognese.

This is a reason, I think, why so many are tempted to add herbs and extra tomatoes to dishes like ragu Bolognese which would otherwise seem bland to them. It's because the rich meatiness of ragu Bolognese doesn't taste like what they have come to expect out of an Italian pasta sauce. It's not dissimilar from those for whom "pizza sauce" is a highly flavored, dry-herbed cooked tomato sauce, and who find the Neapolitan base of crushed tomatoes and sea salt bland and uninteresting. This is especially interesting to me because the same people don't generally find, say, beef Stroganoff over egg noodles to be bland and in need of punching up with herbs and extra garlic. Most likely, I think, it's because we have the conception of beef Stroganoff as being rich and meaty and not highly spiced. I would argue, by the way, that tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese has more in common with beef Stroganoff on egg noodles than it does with strongly flavored tomato-based Italian pasta dishes like bucatini all'amatriciana and spaghetti alla putanesca and Italian-American red sauce. So, for me personally anyway, when we start thinking of tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese under a separate paradigm than the one we use to think about these highly spiced/flavored tomato-based pasta dishes, suddenly it doesn't seem like it needs extra tomato, spices, garlic, whatever.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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      The Cook-Off is intended to be a forum at which we all can cook the same dish and share our experiences in a non-competitive, collaborative manner, making a dish:
      that you've always wanted to make at home (and may enjoy out) but rarely have made, or haven't made successfully; for which special but locatable ingredients may be used, but for which expensive special equipment is not required; that includes techniques, ingredient combinations, or other elements that intrigue you; from a different cuisine than that of the previous Cook-Off dish; that demands some time and effort, but that rewards that effort for even those first approaching it; and that motivates you to try it out, ask questions, serve it to friends, and share photos and stories. As we cook and compare, some of us post our recipes on RecipeGullet, the eGullet Society's wonderful database of cooking ideas, instructions, and insight.

      Finally, thanks to the internet, remember that you're never too late for an eGullet Cook-Off. While all have a specific starting time, none have an end time, and there are many of us eager to see what you will do with the cook-off recipes. So don't hesitate to contribute if you're finding this thread weeks or months after its start: by posting your own ideas, questions, or results, you can bump activity back up on this thread in no time!

      We've created this index so all cook-offs are easy to find and join in. We'll keep it updated.

      Here is the list:
      Cook-Off 1: Cassoulet Cook-Off 2: Char Siu Bao Cook-Off 3: Gumbo Cook-Off 4: Lamb Curry Cook-Off 5: Fried Chicken Cook-Off 6: Pad Thai Cook-Off 7: Moussaka Cook-Off 8: Pizza Cook-Off 9: Mole Poblano Cook-Off 10: Meatloaf and Burgers Cook-Off 11: Ice Cream, Gelato, Sorbet, and Sherbet Cook-Off 12: Composed Salads Cook-Off 13: Fresh and Stuffed Pasta, including Gnocchi Cook-Off 14: Bibimbap Cook-Off 15: Chili Cook-Off 16: Potato Pancakes Cook-Off 17: Sausages Cook-Off 18: Asian Noodle Soups Cook-Off 19: Eggs, Beaten, With Stuff In Them Cook-Off 20: Chowdah/Chowder Cook-Off 21: Risotto Cook-Off 22: Tempura Cook-Off 23: Crêpes Cook-Off 24: Kebabs, Satays, & Skewers Cook-Off 25: Tamales Cook-Off 26: Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) Cook-Off 27: Daube Cook-Off 28: Mafé (Peanut Stew) Cook-Off 29: Posole/Pozole Cook-Off 30: Felafel/Falafel Cook-Off 31: Paella Cook-Off 32: Pickles Cook-Off 33: Cold Noodle Dishes Cook-Off 34: Ceviche Cook-Off 35: Pot-au-feu/Simmered Meat'n'Veg Cook-Off 36: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Cook-Off 37: Croquettes Cook-Off 38: Feijoada Cook-Off 39: Tacos Cook-Off 40: Cold Soups Cook-Off 41: Jerk Cook-Off 42: Ratatouille Cook-Off 43: Braised Brisket Cook-Off 44: Ossobuco Cook-Off 45: Fries / Frites / Chips Cook-off 46: Enchiladas Cook-off 47: Asian Tofu Dishes Cook-off 48: Grilled Pizza Cook-off 49: Slaws Cook-Off 50: Lamb Stew Cook-Off 51: Chicken and Dumplings Cook-Off 52: Lasagna Cook-Off 53: Grilled Chicken Cook-Off 54: Gratins Cook-Off 55: Shrimp & Grits Cook-Off 56: Savory-Filled Pastry Cook-Off 57: Bolognese sauce Cook-Off 58: Hash Cook-Off 59: Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish Cook-Off 60: Banh Mi Cook-Off 61: Gels, Jell-O and Aspic Cook-Off 62: Squid, Calamari and Octopus Cook-Off 63: Summer Squash Cook-Off 64: Confit Cook-Off 65: Pork Belly Cook-Off 66: Rhubarb Cook-Off 67: Apples Cook-Off 68: Citrus Fruits Cook-Off 69: Beer Cook-Off  70: Shellfish Grilled Over an Open Flame Cook-Off 71: Winter Squash Cook-Off 72: Ramen 
    • By David Ross
      Welcome back to our popular eGullet Cook-Off Series. Our last Cook-Off, Hash, took us into a heated discussion of the meat of the matter--should it be chopped, hashed, sliced, diced, or chunked.
      Click here, for our Hash discussion, and the answers to all of your questions about this beloved diner staple. The complete eG Cook-Off Index can be found here. Today we’re launching eGullet Cook-Off 59: Cured, Brined, Smoked and Salted Fish.
      Drying fish is a method of preservation that dates back to Ancient times, but more recently, (let’s say a mere 500 years ago or so), salt mining became a major industry in Europe and salt was a fast and economical way of preserving fish. Curing agents like nitrates were introduced in the 19th century, furthering the safety and taste of preserved fish.
      Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, Native Americans have been preserving fish and seafood for millennia. While we are best known for our ruby-red, oily-rich, smoked salmon, other species of fish found in the Pacific and in our streams are delicious when cured and smoked including Halibut, Sablefish and Idaho Rainbow Trout. And don’t think that you can’t smoke shellfish, alder-smoked Dungeness Crab is a wondrous Pacific Northwest delicacy that evokes memories of crab roasting over a driftwood fire on the beach.
      Another method of preserving fish is to bath the beauties in a brine—a combination of water, sugar, salt and spices that adds flavor and moisture to fish before it is dried or smoked. And speaking of smoked fish, you can do it in a small pan on top of the stove, in a cast iron drum, a barbecue pit, an old woodshed or a fancy digital smoker. The methods and flavors produced by smoking fish are endless.
      Old-fashioned ways of preserving fish, (while adequate at the time), aren't always the best method today. Today's technology provides us with the tools to create cured fish that is moist, succulent, tender and with a hint of smoke. The Modernist movement has certainly played a role in bringing this age-old craft into the 21st century, so for the avant-garde in the crowd, show us your creative wizardry for preserving fish the "modern" way.
      Cured, Brined, Smoked or Salted, the art of preserving fish opens us up to limitless possibilities that transcend the boundaries of cuisine and culture. So let’s sew-up the holes in our fishnets, scrub the barnacles off the rowboat and set out to sea in search of some delectable fish to cure, brine, smoke and salt.
    • By David Ross
      Welcome back to a time-honored, cherished eG tradition, the eG Cook-Off Series. Today were venturing into a new world for Cook-Off's. Member Kerry Beal came forward with a Cook-Off idea we just couldn't pass up--Pork Belly--and inspired a new idea for future Cook-Off's. Knowing we're a community of great culinary minds, we'll be inviting the Members to send us ideas for potential future Cook-Off's, (more information to come later). Take it away Kerry and let's raid the larder and start cookin.
    • By David Ross
      Fall is but a whisper of the recent past--at least it is where I live in the upper reaches of Eastern, Washington. We had our first fluff of snow a week ago and a reasonable November storm is predicted for this weekend with temperatures holding at a chilly 18 degrees at night.
      Along with the rumblings of cold winter weather and Holiday feasts, we turn our culinary musings to time-treasured, comfortable dishes. And so I invite you to join me in another kitchen adventure--the inimitable eG Cook-Off Series. In 2013, we've tackled the tricky cooking of Squid, Calamari and Octopus and we made delicious dishes out of the humble Summer Squash.
      (Click here http://forums.egulle...cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).
      But today we're shunning all manner of counting calories, salt or fat content--for what is rich in flavor is good for the soul my dear friends. Please join me in crafting, nuturing and savoring a dish of Confit.
    • By David Ross
      Hello friends and welcome back to a time-honored tradition--the popular eG Cook-Off Series. We're in the heat of summer right now and our gardens are literally blooming with all manner of peak of the season ripe fruits and succulent vegetables. And there's no better time of year to honor a vegetable that is often maligned as not being as colorful or trendy as the chi-chi breakfast radish or the multi-hued rainbow chard.

      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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