Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pasta Bolognese

I grew up eating a lot of spaghetti, the occasional lasagne, and a dish that my mom labeled "heavely macaroni", an all-in-one skillet dish with macaroni, ground beef, canned tomatoes, and (possibly) some seasonings.  That's where my recollection of Italian dishes ends (okay, that last one isn't really Italian).  That doesn't mean that I never ate anything else or that my mom didn't branch out and cook other dishes, I just don't recall them.  Funny how memory works.  Similar to one of my son's fondest food memories:  I used to mix canned Nalley chili with jarred Tostito's queso dip, hand him a bag of chips and call it dinner.  He may never remember the pizzas I lovingly made from scratch but he'll always remember that chili con queso from the can.

So for this meal I have no frame of reference.  I have no idea if it looks like it suppose to look, taste like it is suppose to taste, or if it really takes as long to make as it took me.  I never ate this meal growing up, I never ordered it at a restaurant, and I don't have Italian relatives or neighbors to school me if I completely screwed this one up.  My "technique" could be way off and I am not claiming this as authentic.  I have a feeling it isn't as saucy as it should be but we will chalk that up to using fresh tomatoes and a beginner's learning curve.

I do claim this meal to be good.  Really, really good.  Plus it has a lot of fresh vegetables in it so that's gotta offset the small amount of cream that I splashed on at the end of cooking.  It was time consuming as all get out so don't try this for a weeknight meal.  Lots and lots and then some more chopping.  Also something not in the original recipe was a lot of draining.  You see fresh tomatoes have a high volume of water and when cooked the water has to go somewhere.  I chose for it to go down the drain of my kitchen sink.  Like I said I didn't know what I was doing.

Pasta Bolognese based on Old School Lasagne with Bolognese Sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaves, fresh or dried
4 lbs tomatoes; washed, seeded, and chopped (or canned equivalent)
3/4 cups tightly-packed fresh basil leaves, or 3 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, rough chopped
1 onion, rough chopped
2 ribs celery, rough chopped
1/4 cup whole milk
8 oz rigatoni

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. When it turns light brown, add the thyme, bay leaf and tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes, then taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, if desired. Remove and discard the thyme and bay leaves. Stir in the basil leaves and shut off the heat to allow the sauce to "rest."

In another large wide pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Add the ground beef and cook until brown, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the pieces. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside. Set the pot back over the heat and add a little more olive oil. Add carrots, onion and celery. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the beef back to the pot, then add the  tomato sauce. Cover slightly and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add water to a large pot and place on stove to boil.  Add salt and oil to taste.  Once water is at a roiling boil, add dry pasta, and stir to avoid sticking.  Reduce heat so that water doesn't boil over, but still continues to roll.  Cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.

Serve sauce over pasta, and top with parmesan cheese.

Servings: 6
Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour

1 comment:

  1. What a great pasta dish, this looks amazing! :)