Sauce Bolognese has a love affair with Pasta - rice and potatoes be jealous!
Bolognese is an absolutely delicious and savory tomato base sauce that has its origins in the city of Bologna, Italy. The sauce can be prepared with or without meat; however, traditionally, it always contains meat. Which ever way you like it, one thing's for sure, you never want to rush its cooking. Allow the sauce to slowly take its time, slowly cooking.
Another important to consider when preparing Bolognese, there's nothing like making it from scratch. From grinding your own meat to seeding and chopping your tomatoes, you'll be amazed at the richness in flavors you can create yourself; furthermore, you'll also be amazed as to how easy it is to do. There's nothing like fresh homemade Sauce Bolognese. Let's get started. This recipe will easily serve a party of 6 and still provide leftovers.
You will need:
1 lb. of beef, cut in 1 inch cubes (not too lean of a cut)
3/4 lb. of pork, cut in 1 inch cubes (I use boneless rib)
10 medium very ripened tomatoes, seeds removed
3 medium bell peppers ( 1 each green, yellow, and red), finely chopped
3 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
4 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 cup of chopped green Spanish olives
1/2 lb. of baby Portabella mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 small can of tomato paste
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup of fresh basil, finely chopped (or 1 tablespoon of basil paste)
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
6 small anchovy fillets (no salt added)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 1/2 cup of red wine
2 tablespoons of anise liquor (my little secret)
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard (another of my little secrets)
2 tablespoons of Marscapone
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of butter
salt and black pepper (to taste)
2 one pound packages of linguine pasta (my preference)
To begin with, there is a common argument as to whether to purchase already ground meat or to grind the meat yourself. If you are able to, it is recommended to grind your own meat, the main reason for doing so is that you can rough grind it. Rough grinding leaves small chunks throughout, making for a hearty sauce. Over grinding tends to break down the meat too much when cooking. It's your choice.
Start by preparing all your ingredients before cooking begins. Grind the meat in a food processor one cup at a time (don't over grind), chop your vegetables, and take the seeds out of the tomatoes. Regarding the tomatoes, slice them in quarters and don't worry about the skins because you are going to rough process them in the food processor (you won't even notice the skins when cooked). Once seeded, add them 2 cups at a time to the food processor, pulsing 5 times for each batch. Strain the tomatoes in a strainer over a large bowl, careful not to discard the juices. You may want the juices to adjust the thickness of your sauce.
Over a medium temperature burner, add 1/2 of the olive oil to a large pan (at least 3 inches deep) and add 3 of the anchovy fillets. Allow the anchovies to melt into the oil and stir. Bring the heat up a bit and add the ground beef and pork. Once meat has browned, remove and set aside. Discard any excess liquid from the pan and then return the pan to the burner. Add the remaining olive oil and anchovy fillets and make sure anchovies melt again.
Now saute the onions (not the green onions), carrots, peppers, and garlic over medium high heat until onions become translucent, stirring frequently. This usually takes 5 to 7 minutes. Take care not to burn the peppers. If heat is too hot, reduce to medium.
Now return the meat to the pot and stir into the vegetables. Continue to cook over medium heat for a few more minutes, then add the wine and anise liquor. Stir well and continue to cook for another few more minutes.
Next, add the tomatoes and olives, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium low, cooking for 10 minutes or so. Add a little of the tomato juice if you need to. Begin adding the tomato paste, one tablespoon at a time, diluting each spoon before adding the next. Continue to add some tomato juice as needed, but take care not to make the sauce too runny, as you want this Bolognese to be thick and hearty.
Once the tomato paste is incorporated into your sauce, begin adding the following ingredients one at a time: the basil, oregano, and about 1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper. Now add the green onions and parsley. Stir well, reduce heat to low, cover and continue to cook for about an hour. Check back every 10 minutes to stir, adding a small amount of tomato juice if needed. The sauce should be cooking real slow simmer. After an hour, add the mushrooms, stir well, cover and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes or so.
After sauce has been cooking for the final 20 minutes, stir in the Marscapone
Bring a large pot of water (1 tablespoon of salt added) to a roaring boil and drop your pasta in. The next step is very controversial and the opinions run wild on whether or not to do it. Trust me, DO IT. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the water. Here's why. Have you ever cooked pasta, then drained the water, once cooked and then only to find within a minute that it all begins to stick together? Well, the starch in the pasta causes that. The first thing you want to do is run water through it to rinse. THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE NO NO! The very little oil you add simply prevents the pasta from sticking together. Once you drain the water out, there's very little oil that remains on the pasta but you'll have a bowl of it that doesn't clump or stick together. In any case, boil your linguine for exactly 10 minutes for al dente, then strain water out immediately. This will shock some of you... after I strain the pasta, I've been know to stirring a tablespoon of butter into the pasta. Try it and see.
In my experience, it's not the oil that keeps the sauce from coating the surface of the pasta because you're not adding it directly onto the pasta after it's cooked. Two tablespoons of oil in 6 quarts of water is not enough to prevent sauce from coating pasta. It's the fact that many pasta sauces are not made thick enough as the reason why coating doesn't occur. Do a test... dip a spoon in a glass of skim milk, then dip another one in a glass of heavy cream. Which one is more coated? The spoon dipped in the cream should be the winner. Even if you dab a paper towel with a bit of oil and rub it lightly on a spoon, you should get similar results. This is why during the recipe directions you were instructed to add the juice from the tomatoes just a little at a time.
One last word on the oil in the water argument. If you are going to mix the sauce into the entire bowl of pasta before you serve it, you can probably forgo the oil in the water because the liquid from the sauce will cause the pasta to unstick; however, if you serve the sauce like many do by spooning it over each serving, add the little bit of oil when cooking. In any case, this controversy will last as long as time itself. Buon Appetito!