Monday, August 16, 2010

Pasta Bolognese for a Blustery Day

The wind was certainly blowing in Burlington this weekend!  What better to serve than a slow cooking bolognese when the weather takes a turn?  This recipe may not be 100% absolutely true to a traditional pasta bolognese, but it's definitely tasty.  The slow simmering of the sauce allows the flavors to blend and concentrate and creates a deeply hued tomato sauce that's brightened with a touch of dairy.  Bolognese is named after the northern italian town of Bologna, where butter, milk, and cream tend to be much more prevalent than in the dishes of southern Italy.  It may seem odd if you've never seen this type of preparation before, but the dairy really does make a delicious addition and a great counterpoint to the tomatoes in the sauce.

I served the sauce over a  bed of tri-color rotini, which I don't think is traditional (I'm pretty sure I've seen it served over linguini or another long noodle in most cases), but the rotini really holds on to the sauce in all of it's nooks.  Topped with a sprinkle of good Parmesan cheese and a little basil (I used a sprig of my boxwood basil grown by Red Wagon Plants here in Burlington), and you have a delectable dinner suitable for the worst of weather. 

Pasta Bolognese
Click here for printable recipe

1 T. butter
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 celery stalk, diced fine
1 onion, diced fine
1 carrot, grated (about 1/2 c.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 box aseptically packed diced tomatoes (I use Pomi), or 1 can diced tomatoes (about 26 oz.)
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. milk
1/2 - 1 c. vegetable stock
1 - 2 bay leaves
1 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. dried basil (or 1 T. fresh, chopped fine)
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving

12 oz. linguini or rotini, cooked according to package directions.

In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Once butter begins to bubble, add celery, onion, carrot, and garlic. Salt & pepper lightly. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef to pan and break up into a small pieces using the back of a wooden spoon. Once browned, add in tomatoes and white wine; stir. Let reduce for 3-5 minutes, then add in milk, bay leaves, thyme, and basil. Leave over low heat at a bare simmer, at least 3 hours. If mixture becomes too thick, add in vegetable stock by the tablespoonful. After mixture simmers and flavors meld, mix in 1/4 c. parmesan. Stir well and taste; add S&P as desired. Remove bay leaves.

Toss in cooked pasta and stir to combine.  Serve garnished with parmesan cheese and fresh basil (optional).

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