Wednesday, January 05, 2011

So much goodness

Give yourself some time and make a giant pot of delicious Ragu alla Bolognese!

We start by making a Pestata. A finely minced blend of pancetta and garlic.

After cooking the pestata, add some minced carrot, celery and onions. Add wine, beef, pork and tomatoes.

Simmer for over three hours, adding broth as the sauce reduces.

And serve with pasta!

The recipe is huge! You need a large pot. I pulled out the largest I have. A 12 quart stock pot. You don't want to start and then have to shift to multiple pots. With the full batch, I made one 8x8 pan of baked ziti, 3 bowls like the one above. I have one container for a weeknight, quick meal in the freezer, and another large batch frozen for some lasagna later on.

Ragu alla Bolognese, Ricetta Tradizionale
From Lidia Bastianich

2lb ground beef
2lb ground pork
2 cups dry white wine
6 oz bacon or pancetta
5 fat garlic cloves
2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, minced in a food processor or finely chopped
2 large stalks celery, minced in a food processor or finely chopped
1 carrot, shredded (or minced in a food processor or finely chopped)

2 cups dry red wine
2 TB tomato paste
2 cups plum tomatoes passed through a food mill
8-12 oz broth (Lidia calls for turkey or vegetable, I did 3/4 chicken, 1/4 beef)

* Put all four pounds of meat in a large mixing bowl. Crumble and mix together. Pour in the white wine and stir to incorporate, with the meat evenly moistened.

* Cut the pancetta in to chunks and put in a food processor with the garlic. Process until finely minced.

* Pour the olive oil into the heavy saucepan and scrape in all of the pancetta/garlic mixture (aka Pestata). Stir and cook for 3 minutes or more, rendering the fat, over medium-high heat.

* Stir in the minced onion and cook for a few minutes until the onions are sizzling and starting to sweat.

* Stir in the celery and carrot and cook until wilted and golden. About five minute or more. Stir frequently.

* Turn heat up, closer to high. Push the vegetables to the side and add the meat mixture. Sprinkle with salt. Allow the meat on the bottom to brown, stir with the vegetables and mix together. All all the meat to brown. The liquid from the meat and vegetables will probably cover the meat. Cook over high heat until the liquid is gone. This can take 30-40 minutes depending on the pan. Stir occasionally and as the liquid level drops, lower the heat so the meat doesn't burn.

* Begin heating up the broth.

* When the meat liquid had cooked off, add the red wine. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cookuntil the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.

* Clear a space in the bottom of the pan and add the tomato paste. Toast a minute in the hot spot, then stir with the meat and let caramelize for 2 to 3 minutes.

* Stir in the crushed tomatoes, rinse the can with some extra broth. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.

* Pour in 2 cups of hot broth, stir will and add more if need to cover the meat. Bring to an active simmer, cover the pan and adjust the heat to maintain a slow, steady cooking, with small bubbles breaking the surface.

* From this point, the sauce should cook for 3 hours. Check the pot every 20 minutes and add hot broth as needed to cover the meat. The liquid level should be reducing by 1 1/2 to 2 cups between additions; if it's fall much faster, and it takes more than 2 cups to cover the meat, lower the heat to slow evaporation.

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